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Extended Reality

Author: Ben Williams, Founder & Managing Director, Kiln

One recent personal highlight was my agency Kiln being accepted as a UKIE member. It made me realise I’ve been working in the in-app and mobile gaming space for over a decade now, and caused me to reflect - so much has happened over that time; the (accidental?) invention of the hyper-casual category with Flappy Bird, the emergence and then recent decline of hyper personalised targeting to the sheer size of the industry right now (any number you research is just insanely huge). One consistent theme is just how darn nice the community is, and something I’m regularly reminded of when at the various networking events.

But this industry wasn’t built on misty eyed reminiscence. It’s constantly moving forward and innovating, and that’s what makes it so exciting. So I wanted to share some of my thoughts on what’s predicted to be the next major computational update since the jump from desktop to mobile; Extended Reality.

I’m very fortunate to be working with the incredibly talented Alex Grona on a project to help democratise and simplify XR production for the entertainment industry (don’t worry, this isn’t a pitch). Since meeting Alex in the autumn of last year, I’ve had to very quickly immerse myself in the category and I wanted to share some of the most interesting snippets I’ve learned in my short XR career so far:

The fact that Facebook doesn’t own an operating system bothers Zuckerberg

I can’t for one moment imagine what it’s like to be inside the mind of a centi-billionaire. But one thing I can guess is maybe he’s a bit *competitive*? This leaked email from 2015, one year after the acquisition of Oculus, details the motivations for betting on XR - and something he’s followed through on since with 11 acquisitions in this field (with the acquisition of Downpour being the most recent)

Epic’s vision of the Metaverse

Even the name sounds cool. Epic recently invested a further $1 billion into the initiative which demonstrates how seriously they’re betting on this philosophy. The Metaverse is a collective virtual space and has huge applications across technology, entertainment, society and culture. Matthew Ball’s article from 2020 gives a better explanation than I ever could. 

Apple’s quiet movements

I’ve been fortunate to work for Apple twice, so understand first hand how private they are as a company. But according to publicly available information, Apple have made over 10 acquisitions in the XR field since 2015, including the recent purchase of NextVR. Also, Lidar technologies have been available in recent iPhone and iPad devices, and if you own a set of AirPod Pro’s you should experiment with spatial sound. I wouldn’t be surprised if a new device category is announced soon.

My prediction is once the wearables become more accessible for consumers the industry will truly ‘pop’. Current headsets can be clunky and for technology enthusiasts, but once a breakthrough is made in the design of XR devices the industry will explode - similar to when the smartphone industry when the iPhone launched in 2007.

I’d be keen to hear from and connect with other UKIE members who are working on XR projects. Maybe we can get a working group together and collaborate, experiment and share intelligence on the topic.

Here’s to the next decade of exciting developments.