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a16z Podcast | Truce for Mobile, Battle for VR

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💫 Short Summary

The video discusses Google's VR advancements, including Daydream for Android VR and potential standalone headsets. It addresses Android phone fragmentation and Google's push for clean Android experiences with the Pixel phone. The segment also explores VR devices from Apple, Oculus, and Samsung, emphasizing Google's Project Tango and the Santa Cruz prototype. It compares PlayStation VR to PC VR, highlighting Sony's focus on immersive gaming. The discussion touches on the quality of games on Steam, tracking issues with PlayStation VR, and Sony's investment in original VR titles. Sony's strong interest in PlayStation VR is noted, with projections of outselling Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Valve's developments in VR technology and the potential for realistic virtual environments are also explored. The video concludes with optimism for the future of VR technology, driven by high-end advancements and increased user adoption over time.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Recent VR announcements from Google, Oculus, and Samsung.
Google is moving towards more control over hardware and introducing Daydream for Android VR.
Google aims to bridge the gap between Oculus Rift and Gear VR with a potential standalone high-end headset.
Motion sensors and photon latency in Android phones are optimized for VR experiences, reducing nausea and enhancing user immersion.
The discussion explores the future of VR technology and its impact on the industry.
Google's Daydream platform and the challenges it faces in the VR market.
Daydream offers VR experiences on high-end Android phones but lacks features like positional tracking.
Google faces internal conflict as their VR products do not work smoothly on their own hardware.
The rebranding of Nexus to Project Pixel signals Google's increased involvement in device design.
Google aims to address fragmentation in the Android ecosystem with this new approach.
Google addresses Android phone fragmentation and plans for Pixel phone distribution.
Google pushes manufacturers to update operating systems and includes Google Play services on all devices.
Pixel phone aims to set a standard for other manufacturers by offering a clean Android experience.
Google plans to distribute Pixel phones through select operators globally and offer phones at different price points.
Focus on VR development is hindered by the variety of phone configurations, leading to an inconsistent experience for developers and users.
Potential scenarios for VR devices including Apple, Oculus, Samsung, and Facebook products.
Mention of Google's Project Tango for positional tracking technology.
Excitement around Santa Cruz prototype, a self-contained high-end VR headset with no PC connection.
Described as close to the 'Holy Grail' of VR headsets, with potential for future development and improvements.
Highlights of the Oculus Rift VR headset and recent advancements.
Oculus Rift is a high-quality VR headset priced at $600, requiring a $500 PC to run.
New technology called Synchronous Space Warp reduces minimum specs for the Oculus Rift.
Discussions on a standalone mobile headset resembling the Rift are underway.
John Carmack mentioned performance enhancements like Asynchronous Space Warp and Multi-View Rendering at the recent Oculus conference, receiving positive feedback from attendees.
Discussion on performance improvements for Gear VR, potential boost in performance with new rendering framework, and control over hardware stack.
Mention of Apple's potential entry into the market.
Emphasis on companies avoiding dependence on single hardware partner.
HTC's VR software investment as a strategy to avoid past mistakes.
Prediction of competition and desire for full control over VR ecosystem similar to mobile/PC market dynamics.
Overview of Shenzhen technology ecosystem and comparison to Apple's integrated approach.
Potential impact of VR technology, including Sony and Oculus headset development.
Release of PlayStation VR and pricing options discussed.
Competition and evolution of VR technology in the market highlighted.
Sony's early involvement and product development emphasized.
PlayStation VR offers a more affordable and immersive experience for gamers who prefer highly immersive games.
The PlayStation user base is self-selected for immersive gaming, making it an attractive option for VR.
Indie VR content pricing is similar to mobile apps, with developers needing to price around $5 for success.
Building a VR ecosystem is challenging without the scale of mobile, limiting advertising-based business models.
Quality of games on Steam falls between mobile and high-end developer expectations.
PlayStation VR offers a good experience, comparable to Oculus in 2014.
Weaknesses highlighted in reviews related to setup and environmental requirements.
Tracking done through cameras looking at light sources on headset and controllers, causing issues in certain lighting conditions.
Sony's progress with Marquis games is noteworthy but may not be receiving adequate recognition compared to Oculus.
Sony funding development of VR games to meet gamer expectations.
Focus on creating native VR experiences rather than porting 2D games.
Concern about big brand name games overshadowing original VR titles.
Sony investing in a significant slate of VR titles over the next year.
High attach rates for pre-orders indicate strong interest in PlayStation VR.
PlayStation VR projected to outsell Oculus Rift and HTC Vive due to supply constraints.
Sony's future sales figures and potential E3 announcements anticipated.
Advancements in VR technology accelerating development of high-end headsets, with $300 standalone device as 'holy grail'.
Breakthroughs like Asynchronous Space Warp driving innovation, leading to faster release of advanced VR headsets.
Impact of Moore's Law on Economics
New technologies face challenges in gaining mainstream success, with sales numbers and key figure support like Mark Zuckerberg playing a crucial role.
Discussion on the Gartner hype cycle and the importance of sustained momentum to overcome setbacks in technology adoption.
Historical examples showcase technology being used for unexpected purposes, highlighting the unpredictable nature of innovation.
VR's potential expands to social applications beyond gaming, with Facebook leading the way.
Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated VR's use for social experiences, such as virtual phone calls using cartoon avatars.
VR is evolving into a social computing system with network effects, gaining value as more users participate.
Valve and Vive are highlighted for their innovations in room-scale VR and hand controllers.
Speculation surrounds Valve's possible unveiling of new VR technology at upcoming events like Steam Dev Days or Mobile World Congress.
Valve is developing VR technology for PC gaming with a focus on wireless connectivity to the GPU.
Gabe Newell, the company's founder, is now focused on VR and aims to succeed in the high-end PC market.
Destinations, Valve's social VR platform, lets users import 3D worlds and models from a modding community.
The platform supports photogrammetry, allowing users to create realistic virtual environments.
Extracting 3D geometry from real-world environments to create virtual worlds.
Examples include recreating apartments and real-life locations using video game rendering techniques.
Demonstrations include stitching footage from a Mars rover to create a realistic Mars environment for exploration.
Technology involves taking multiple photos to create a detailed virtual representation.
Potential for creating immersive VR experiences, such as horror scenarios, is also mentioned.
Future of virtual reality technology.
Anticipation for high-end advancements driving the medium forward.
Expectations for Valve's upcoming releases are tempered, but excitement remains for potential innovations in the next generation of VR.
Trickle-down effect from high-end devices to more accessible options like PlayStation VR noted, with projections for increased user adoption over time.
Optimism and curiosity surround the evolving landscape of virtual reality.