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October 19, 2017

Oculus Connect 4 – What happened for B2B and Healthcare

Oculus Connect 4.png 

Optera attended Oculus Connect 4 on October 10th-12th in San Jose, California.  Optera is very focused on understanding the uses of AR and VR in the B2B and healthcare markets.   We kept a keen eye out for new announcements, shifts in the market and use of technology that is of importance to the B2B market place. 

Key observations:

  • Oculus Go – BIGGEST GAME CHANGER for B2B use of VR period. Oculus Go is an all in one headset priced at $199.  Think of Oculus Go as Gear VR but with the phone built into the headset except it costs about 70% less.  Oculus Go now makes it possible for much broader deployments of VR to sales teams, customers and patients.  Oculus Go has a single hand controller like Gear VR.  Time will tell how capable this device will be. Optera should have a developer version in November.  We will post our thoughts on the device once we get our hands on it. 
  • Oculus Business – Oculus Business is a new bundle of hardware and support targeted at business users. The bundle comes with extra hardware/consumables, a warranty, priority support and a commercial license. While it is nice that Oculus is showing more focus on the Business community, we are not sure how big of a deal this will be.  The most important part of Oculus Business may be the new Commercial License allowing for revenue and promotional activities.  At $900, we can see how many folks may not see the value in this package.  Having suffered through the very painful lack of business level support from Apple in the early days of the iPad, we can see this package being very important for large enterprises who need real support. 
  • Oculus Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz is an all in one, untethered head set with full six degrees of freedom. While we only saw a video example of Santa Cruz, if it delivers as expected it will be a very big advancement for B2B use of VR. Santa Cruz is scheduled for release in late 2018, so we will be talking a lot more about this, this time next year.  From Optera’s perspective, we see Santa Cruz removing the last major barrier to large scale adoption of VR for training and education.  This makes early 2018 the time to invest in education initiatives for VR.
  • Eye Glasses – Hopefully, someone from the Oculus human factors team sees this post and helps folks wearing eye glasses. The Oculus headset just does not fit well with glasses on – almost painful in some cases.  Having struggled with the uncomfortable headset over glasses for 8 hours of demoing VR apps at Oculus Connect 4, this must get better for large scale B2B adoption.   While we are not sure of the exact percentage, let’s assume that about 50% of most B2B users will be spectacle wearers.  This human factors problem limits the addressable market too much.  Just a little more room in the headset would make all the difference in the world.  The HTC Vive seems to have this figured out a bit better. 
  • Best App: Dispatch – Oculus Connect 4 had a lot of VR applications in the Exhibit Hall for folks to check out. For us, Dispatch by Here Be Dragons was hands down the best.  Dispatch is a multi-episode cinema piece with the first two episodes shown on Gear VR. Those who are interested in mental health uses of VR will love this piece.  Just a fantastic storytelling VR experience that really brings you into the stresses associated with being a 911 operator.  No spoilers on the rest of the content but check out the trailer here.   
  • Business Based VR – There was a definite intent to highlight business uses of VR by Oculus. Two experiences were highlighted in a special Business section of the Expose Hall – Audi and Cisso.  The Audi application was extremely well done and had significant investment in it.  Audi’s project manager was quoted as saying the project had 30 to 40 resources working on it for the past 5 years. The Business Uses breakout session was very interesting and highlighted some very significant VR deployments by Wal-Mart, Proctor & Gamble and Audi.   In conversations with folks, uptake in architecture and automotive has been very good and most expect 2018 to be very large adoption year for healthcare. Overall, 2018 should be a year that shows a significant pop in business based uses. 
  • Healthcare Based VR – Healthcare was also highlighted in several areas at Oculus Connect 4. In general, VR has an amazing ability to transform healthcare as it impacts so many areas of healthcare.   The breakout session on healthcare highlights two well-known experiences out of Stanford and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  The key is that very real benefits were seen with these applications and should pave the way for other pioneers in this segment.  2018 again should be a very big year for healthcare and VR.
  • Hand Controls – One observation from demoing different VR applications for about 8 hours, non-gamers have a hard time figuring out hand controls. VR compounds the problem because users can not actually see their hands.  We felt that most of the developers are gamers, building games for gamers.  Which is fine unless you need an application for non-gamers.  This may be the single largest stumbling block for the business use of VR.  If a layman is required by their business to use VR for training or other real business needs, the hand control environments need a lot more attention and love from an adult learning perspective. This is an area that cannot be underestimated in a business application.  

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