This Is Exactly What We Signed Up For
30 Sep 2020
Being an early adopter of technology is like being on a roller coaster. You start out chugging uphill, while you get the work started. The first descent is exhilarating and scary at the same time as you launch your product. You don't know what's around the next bend in the track until you get there. The twists and turns whip you around and you have to adjust. There's a destination that you're going to get to eventually but it's not thinking about the end of the track that keeps you going. It's the ride.
And quite like a ride it has been for me and the team at Golden Shovel Agency as technology innovators in the economic development space. Our journey just got more interesting with the announcement about the new Oculus Quest 2 VR headset at this month's Facebook Connect Conference.
This new VR hardware has big implications for what we're doing with PlaceVR and developing our technology stack for economic development. On one level it's absolutely exciting to see how VR technology is leaping ahead. On another level, it's uncomfortable and maybe even a little scary because everything we do is going to be affected by this new headset.
We've got some things to figure out, but this is exactly what we signed up for when we recognized the applications for virtual reality in economic development and decided to go for it.
High-Speed Change for VR Technology
Just to give you an idea of the speed that VR technology is moving, it was just 2017 when we first approached a few of our clients to test out our video idea to use 360-degree video for community familiarization tours. Back then, the best way to view the videos was with a headset that was connected to a computer or a game console.
In 2018 the first standalone VR headsets were launched. This was huge for the usability of our 360-degree video product because it meant that you could ship a headset to anyone in the world. All the recipients had to do was put it on to begin their immersive experience.
Everything Will Work Better with Oculus Quest 2
The new Oculus Quest 2 headset that will start shipping in October is two generations past the Oculus Go that we've been using for the last couple of years. We're super excited about this because it will make everything that we've done so far, work so much better, and that translates into an even better experience for the viewer. The price point at $299 is a bonus, considering how much more capability is packed into the new model.
Screen resolution is going to be outstanding with the Oculus Quest 2. We actually anticipated improvement in resolution for future VR hardware and we've been shooting 360-degree video in 4K for quite some time.
The Quest 2 has a much faster processor, and the headset itself is smaller and lighter. This increased computing power supports built-in hand tracking, so when you're in a virtual environment, you don't have to use external controllers. This is a feature that's going to make conversations in our virtual reality meetings app even more engaging because a participant can point and gesture more naturally.
We're also looking forward to improved functionality in the Quest 2 for the site visualization technologies that we work with. Site visualization used 3D modeling to give site selectors ideas on how a specific piece of land might be developed. Faster computing will make these models and animations really pop, and will also support the more advanced visualizations that we're creating for clients with "Matterport" 3D walkthrough technology.
Perched on the Edge of Technology Innovation
We're definitely at an in-between moment in our technology progression as we take a step up to the new VR headset hardware. While clients will continue to be able to use the Oculus Go equipment for their 360-degree videos and virtual meetings, we know that our excitement for Oculus 2 is going to ripple out to everyone and there will be lots of requests to upgrade to the more powerful headsets.
At the same time, we have increased demand for 360-degree video and our virtual meetings app and we can't wait until the new hardware is available so that we can work with it to perfect our processes. That's what happens when perched on the edge of technology innovation. You have to be fluid.
Ultimately, Oculus's focusing on Quest 2 gives us a lot more clarity (no pun intended) on where this technology is heading. I feel fortunate that we prepared from the start for the higher quality productions. Even better, the new hardware capabilities empower our developers and the economic development industry to showcase communities with even better tools. It all makes the magic of VR more magical.
Seeing is Believing
Wondering why VR is the must-have technology tool that economic developers need to bust through the barriers of time, distance, and cost? Download our free eBook: Small Town. Big Tech.