Daily, reports are being written on Virtual Reality (VR) global prominence. In America, adopters range from the venerable NASA to the quotidian Mall of America. China now boasts of thousands of crowded VR arcades that are proliferating faster than you can say “Are you serious?!”.
Singapore is no digital Luddite too, with the government spearheading the awareness of Virtual Reality. In fact, a casual browsing of the contracts on the tender portal will show the government to probably be the biggest local procurer of services for virtual and augmented reality. (Then again, one may argue that the government is the biggest procurer of everything & anything due to it’s sheer size – that’s something for another day)
However, how are things organically developing on the ground? VizioFly distills the innumerable interactions it had in 2016 – with industry players, government, corporate clients and other stakeholders – and places it as a foundation for envisioning the year ahead and areas where VR will make further inroads.
In China, it is now commonplace to see VR headsets at a property launch. Due to several factors, a key one being the dismal outlook for property, Singapore’s developers have not adopted it so quickly. Since VizioFly’s collaboration with PropertyGuru in early 2016, only one other notable public exception exists – Keppel Land’s Highline Residences use of VR to provide buyers with a better appreciation of its pre-build apartments.
In 2017, we foresee a steady but gradual adoption by the developers. Due to the cautious economic environment, specific use-cases and ROI calculations will be made so as to justify VR’s usage.
In fact, we think that property services firms and property agents will move faster and generate significant momentum in 2017 with functional 360 photos of their sales property.
While VizioFly dares not presume to be an authority on the arts, we have to declare that the most beautiful picture in 2016 was this – the look of heavenly wonderment when someone tries VR for the first time.
In Singapore, the vast majority has not experienced VR. Shopping malls would thus be leveraging upon VR’s high novelty quotient to attract foot traffic and get people chattering. Case studies have shown that by placing a large screen to broadcast the user’s VR experience, spectators also feel a degree of immersion and enjoy the moment.
Will shopping malls use the technology to create Virtual Shopping Experiences? This is taking root in America, China and Japan. However, due to the risk of cannibalization, we believe the local mall operators will be focusing their energies on utilizing VR as a crowd-puller to fend off e-commerce’s threatening impact on its foot traffic.
Related to mall experiences, the largest source of corporate VR demand thus far is from marketing.
VizioFly’s involvement with the launch of the Lamborghini Huracán in Singapore led to us having several conversations regarding VR’s use in product launches. More conversations are being held in virtual reality tours and other branding exercises. (strangely, plantations seem to love VR! Our recent portfolio includes a tea and palm oil plantation)
Corporate marketing will be the bread and butter for VR firms in 2017.
There is buzzing interest in using VR as a sales kit for their staff that sell bulky, expensive equipment. In 2017, we believe that potential customers will be wearing a VR headset to appreciate the $200,000 machine and even the sophisticated factory that it was made in.
CPF used VR for their informational campaigns and headway is already being made to use VR for education and the tourism sector. From our conversations and demos with government agencies, we see an intense interest in using it for remote collaboration, something that will probably materialize in the medium term.
For 2017, we think that agencies will start latching on to practical use cases. An interesting one is using it in their recruitment endeavors. For example, we had mooted in a conversation with MOE that new teachers could be on-boarded with virtual reality. Imagine fresh teachers being immersed within a challenging, rowdy classroom and then within the atypical homes of dysfunctional students. The empathy for “problem students” and sense of purpose engendered by the experience would be deeply embedded within the teacher.
Talking about empathy, how about using VR to immerse our leaders and policy makers in a localized situation? Could policies become even sharper and relevant? Food for thought!
Currently, Singaporean examples of virtual reality training are few and far between. They tend to reside with the large agencies (e.g. SPF, SCDF) and give the perception that VR training is a million-dollar endeavor!
2017 will see the plodding democratization (most over-used and abused startup word of 2016 but we perceive ourselves as a startup and wish to fit in!) of VR in training.
Companies, with active proddings from content creation firms like VizioFly, will see VR as a means to reduce reliance on expensive trainers and unproductive day-trainings. As more corporates buy-in, there will be clearer evidence that VR training programs are effective and economical.
VR is looking like the WD-40 of the digital world – as time passes, more and more applications for it get discovered!
2017 will be an exciting year for Singapore’s VR scene and at VizioFly, we are plunging into it and working to become a permanent pillar of the landscape!