AMD's Roy Taylor discusses what's going to be big for VT in 2017 - location-based VR, more complex content, and experiences good enough you'll be willing to pay for them.
Roy Taylor is 'the VR guy' at AMD. His official title is corporation vice president - content and technologies, but what this really involves is working with the entertainment industries to help them produce better and more engaging VR experiences. Better VR means more people and companies buying VR kit, which require much more powerful graphics chips than your average PC - so if it takes off and AMD's marketed itself well, the company will sell more graphics cards (and chips inside laptops and the PS4, which has its own VR helmet in the PS VR).
Hollywood-based, and working with the film and game industries (and the 'digital entertainment' space that sits somewhere in-between), Roy has an overview of where the industry is headed. Ao on a recent trip to London, I caught up with him to hear his views on the challenges and opportunities for VR in 2017. Of course, working for AMD, his insights are coloured by AMD's heavy presence in high-end VR but not in mobile (ie, phone-powered) VR. But in 'desktop VR, AMD is almost platform-agnostic - its chips powering PCs that support both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and inside the PS4.
Before looking to the year ahead, I asked Roy's perspective on where we are now - for which he has a clearly well-prepared answer.
"We're at the roughly equivalent to about where the film industry was in 1905," says Roy. "In 1905, the Kinetoscope had been out since 1891, so the first pieces of content were just starting to be made, but it was with the introduction of the Nickelodeon [early cinemas] in 500 locations across America when it took off.
"We're kind of in the same place now. We know that [VR] offers immense promise, particularly in film. - and to a lesser degree in games. But we haven't yet got the killer piece of content that makes us all rush home early, and give up our Christmases, neglect the kids, because it's so awesome.
"This is going to come along - VR going to 'happen'.'
Roy says that the biggest issue that the industry has right now is the relatively low number of users/potential customers for content creators. He quotes Jon Peddie Research's stats that 750,000 VR headsets will ship before the end of this year - with 2.7 million more shipping next year.
"So in the next year, it will be still an installed base of around four million," he says. "Even if he's wrong by a 100 percent, it's still [only] eight million.
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