Charlie Rose Interviews Virtual Reality Experts

This past Tuesday, famed journalist Charlie Rose interviewed five virtual reality (VR) experts for an overview of the technology’s potential (link). The following are the key takeaways from the discussion:

About VR

  • VR is difficult to describe, but when people see it, they get it.
  • VR is as revolutionary as the invention of the telephone or television.  All these technologies communicate the way people communicate – through our senses.
  • VR fidelity is so great that it can trick the mind into thinking it is immersed in a real experience
  • When VR works, it takes over your senses
  • A decade from now, we’ll look at VR as a key milestone in the history of computing because it creates a sense of presence.

VR Industry

  • Can VR be $150 billion market in 4 years?  Most panelists said “no”, but one said the rate of smartphone adoption was very quick. It could be the same for VR and $150 billion could be the base case of adoption
  • Oculus believes in hockey stick growth, but don’t know when it will happen.
  • 2016 is an important year since this is a distribution year for hardware
  • Massive initiative at Google from Cardboard to research
  • Google’s Cardboard was the most important VR initiative because it allowed millions to experience VR
  • Apple is probably sitting back and waiting for the industry to mature.  iPhone user VR interest is high.  Having a VR attachment on the iPhone would be big
  • We don’t know what type of commercial apps developers will create. Who could have predicted apps that would let people share their homes (AirBnB) or offer rides to people (Uber)

VR Storytelling

  • It took film a long time to be able to tell a story, largely through advances in tech. The same will happen with VR.
  • This is year 1 for content development. We don’t know how to show and tell a story in VR yet.
  • VR content will make you part of the story.
  • Don’t look at VR as an extension to film making. VR is its own medium.  Storytelling in VR will be unique.
  • People won’t stop traveling and interacting because of VR. VR takes you to places you otherwise couldn’t go. For example, there is an upcoming movie that takes you to Pluto. Another example was when the NY Times have virtually put people in places of conflict.

Charlie’s Panelists

  • Jake Silverstein Editor in Chief The New York Times Magazine – heads their VR initiative
  • Nellie Bowles reports on tech in Silicon Valley for The Guardian
  • Jason Rubin – Head of Studios at Oculus
  • Neville Spiteri – CEO and Founder of WEVR
  • Chris Milk – CEO and Founder of VRSE

How to Invest in the VR Market

Spectra 7 Microsystems (SEV:TSX, SPVNF:OTCQX) designs ultra-thin interconnects for the virtual reality market. Spectra7 is not a virtual reality headset manufacturer but instead provides chips that reduce the weight and thickness of cables used on VR headsets. The Company’s chips accomplish this without sacrificing the high speed video, data, and audio quality required for the best user experience. Spectra7’s VR7100 DisplayDirect™ specifically targets virtual reality headset cabling by condensing four bulky cables (HDMI, USB, audio, and power) into a single, ultra-thin virtual reality cable.

Why is this important? Many virtual reality headsets are tethered to a computer or other hardware, and four cables introduce significant weight and mobility issues. Less is more in terms of cabling, and Spectra7’s VR7100 achieves this without sacrificing performance. In fact, the VR7100 provides more performance in a smaller package making it one of the most important components in high-end virtual reality hardware.

Other key points about Spectra7 to consider include:

  • Analyst tear-downs have found Spectra7 chips in the consumer versions of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality headsets
  • Over 30 design-ins
  • $2.5 million bookings backlog in the first quarter of 2016
  • Product line for related augmented reality headsets
  • 49 patents