I was talking recently with Mike Libecki, a National Geographic Explorer of the Year and Dell Rugged partner, about the value of Virtual Reality (VR) in the work he does. Now, thanks to 360-degree cameras, Mike can take us with him on his next climb to the top of the world’s mountains – an adventure most of us would take if not for going there virtually.
We have developed a VR experience for the Lonely Whale Foundation, immersing people in the plight of the loneliest whale, to motivate people to recycle and clean up our oceans. Virtual hangouts let people sit in a virtual room and share a film or game and chat real time. If your friends are in England and you’re in the US missing the banter of watching a film with them, virtual hangouts become really fun and important to you (I attest to this as a Brit living in North Carolina).
But there are folks on both sides of VR, debating how fast it will grow, if at all.
True, VR takes up space in the home. True, you are enclosed in a tethered headset (for now). True, you play games that make you look like a marionette in a twisted puppet show. For me, I’m happy to give my friends a good laugh because I am a firm believer that VR, and ultimately augmented reality (AR), will reshape industries.
From oil and gas, media and entertainment, construction, engineering and manufacturing to healthcare, VR will digitize businesses to improve customer experiences, train employees, enhance collaboration, and improve product design, speed time to market… It’s already happening.
Commercial applications of the technology will be the market opportunity – 11 percent of the market will be media/entertainment/games, 35 percent commercial, 18 percent healthcare and 10 percent education (Source: ABI Research 2015). VR will have 216 million active users and be a $45 billion hardware market by 2025 (Source: Goldman Sachs 2016).
At the same time, the PC market is poised to expand into a $30 billion industry by the end of 2018, growing at a pace of $2 billion per year. As the only company with powerful workstations for VR and AR content creation, AND Alienware gaming rigs for consumption, Dell is in a unique and exciting position.
To hit these projections, however, we must create content to drive the hardware, and vice versa, both for entertainment and business use. We are now starting to see more AAA content arriving, and as the cost for quality VR headset comes down, we’ll see even more content and greater VR adoption. The lack of content killed 3DTV. This won’t be the case for VR. And because VR is the gateway to AR, this applies to AR content as well.
We’re on this journey together and as a community we all need to strap in!
It’s going to be an exhilarating ride. And knowing it takes a community for progressive technology to evolve, we have a couple of groups and services that are being funded to drive this evolution. One we’re proud to say is kicking off at Dell EMC World is the Dell Technology Partner Program which verifies and/or certifies VR/AR software solutions developed by our partners on Dell hardware platforms.
This program is designed to remove the guesswork for customers deploying VR or AR in their environments with best-in-class solutions; as a leader in the VR space, we’re privy to a vast knowledge base for tested and proven hardware and software innovations. Keep an eye out following Dell EMC World as we continue to feature some of the success stories and impressive work coming out of the Dell Technology Partner Program.
The other investment that’s been steadily growing over the last year are our Virtual Reality Centers of Excellence (COE). Much like Dell helped usher in the value of virtualization with the Virtualization Centers of Excellence, these VR Centers of Excellence give customers confidence they’re investing in something that works.
Our eight Centers of Excellence locations across the globe, including Santa Clara, Austin, Limerick, China, Frankfurt and Singapore, facilitate the introduction and/or maturation of VR solutions within Dell customers’ markets. These centers include all Dell products relate to VR and AR, allowing customers to experiment with VR proofs of concept, testing and validating solutions in a risk-free environment. Solutions feature Precision workstations for rendering VR and Dell EMC servers and storage that support vast quantities of data and ensure security.
Here at Dell EMC World, we’re featuring a success story from our VR Centers of Excellence. Jaguar Land Rover is an early adopter of VR to design and develop vehicles, saving fabrication time and money. VR has eliminated their need for a physical wind tunnel, saving significant cost. They even launched their first fully electric SUV, the Jaguar i-Pace, in one of the most progressive VR press conference ever. I was there – pretty cool!
Other examples of VR collaborations include:
- AECOM, a company that connects expertise across services, markets, and geographies to deliver transformative outcomes, used VR to bring their Olympics and World Cup stadium designs to life working with Dell’s software partner ICI.Do.
- Ford, Bacon & Davis’ chemical plant design was converted to VR to save cost and time and improve safety. When the company’s CEO walked through the plant in VR for the first time, he said he gained a whole new perspective on design, workflow and project review. FB&D President Rick Moore also sees the value of VR for pre-client internal reviews of engineering design work processes and toolsets, as well as enhanced model reviews of designs with clients.
- The University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies (ICT) collaborates with the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as entertainment and game development industries, to solve problems facing U.S. service members, students and society using advanced technology. For example, ICT’s Dr. Skip Rizzo is revolutionizing the role VR can play in rehabilitating returning service members with PTSD and helping autistic teenagers overcome the stresses of interview for jobs, all with Dell workstations and VR technology.
At Dell, we’re applying what we learn from these customer applications. Cost is often cited as a reason VR won’t take off, but the cost will come down, and we already see endless applications for the technology for consumers and businesses. Meanwhile, resolution, graphics, performance and optics are improving.
Gaming legend and Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney said VR for gamers “is like a super hardcore, badass PC.” After 20 years with Alienware, we sell a lot of badass PCs – and now they are VR-ready. But experiencing is believing. Ten minutes in a headset – you get it. Try it – you’ll like it!
For Dell VR-ready solutions, click here.
To set up a VR COE appointment and experience it for yourself; contact your Dell sales person for a visit to a participating Dell Center.