Virtual reality (VR) seems to be the darling of the moment, with its potential talked up and trumped by almost everyone.

This is clearly evidenced by campaigns, agencies, governments and even adult streaming sites getting cosy with the new format.

While Asia might be seeing faster and better broadband into the home, providing an avenue for content providers to think about VR. Latency however will the key issue to overcome, as Asia ramps to Gigabit speeds according to Jon Walkenhorst, chief technology officer, connected home division, Technicolor.

“It is appropriate to be putting fibre [optic] into people’s homes in anticipation of the mass explosion of IoT (Internet of Things) devices… all will demand bandwidth but I think it’s about latency than it is about bandwidth,” said Walkenhorst.

“When you move into virtual reality and augmented reality, you want low latency, you want to be able to turn your head and have the new content come without having to resynchronise again, it’s more about the speed of interaction,” he added.

VR might still be in its early days where standards are fast and loose and there are no clear winners yet, but there is a clear sign that VR is primarily to occupy the home space for now. One of the issues is how VR is currently being experienced right now, according to Josh Limor, vice president, technology and ecosystem development, Technicolor.

“Have you seen someone experiencing VR? How do they look? The reality is if you want to take VR and put it on someone in a subway car, they’re going to look like a crazy person, that’s not something we as a society accept, it’s kind of a problem in creating an external environment,” said Limor.

However, making it social and connecting people might be the way forward in making VR more mainstream according to Limor.

“Ultimately it is about connecting people, creating a voice, conversation, a dialogue. Here in VR, whether it is in a home, library or wherever it is, if you can connect to a person next to you or around the world from you, that’s what will extend and make it more than an experience,” said Limor.

“What is a VR experience and can someone connect with you via AR? So it is not just about one medium but how these different mediums connect to the real world and how they interact,” he added.

APAC service providers appear to be ready to bring such experiences out of the home as well, according to George Laplanche, head of connected home, Asia Pacific, Technicolor.

“It already is a fact that the experience offered now has to be ubiquitous, and any video service now is offered on the mainstream or mobility, that is a fact that they have to provision the service in and out of the home,” said Laplanche.

The reality that cities face with shrinking home sizes pose yet another challenge to room-scale VR as well, as people would rarely have a dedicated space just for it.

“What if I can’t have a space dedicated to VR, can I rent a space? We’re seeing some companies looking to figure out if there’s a business model around that, which is a good place for locations that are shrinking in home sizes,” said Limor.

“How do you cater to one area in the world where they have more space and another that has less space to have the same experience? There are conventions and ways that allow game engines that can decrease or limit the space to move versus someone with more space that can expand to explore the [VR] environment,” he added.

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