Google recently announced that it launched a new library of sorts called Poly. There, people can browse, discover and download 3-D objects and scenes for use in apps.
Google built Poly from the ground up with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) developers in mind. But marketers may also find Poly useful: It serves as a reminder that managing 3D content is just as important as creating it. That's an important point for companies to remember as they rev up their own VR and AR initiatives.
“Yes, you can create your one-off VR or AR experience. But over time, when you think of XR [extended reality] as a service, that will mean managing your 3-D assets,” said Rori Duboff, managing director of content innovation at Accenture Interactive. “That means everything, content management, content creation, content distribution, content authorization.”
In many cases, the tasks Duboff listed are beyond the capabilities of most companies that are, at best, dabbling in VR and AR. And that is fine. Right now, extended reality is enough of a niche space that a marketer doesn’t have to worry about being behind the curve. What is a smart idea, though, is to get ahead of the trend by thinking through some key issues, such as how to manage the technology on the backend.
Also, don’t assume that only top-tier companies — Disney, say — are getting ready for this technology. “Some of our customers are already on top of this,” said Aaron Buchanan, vice president of emerging technology at HYFN. “They have identified console gaming opportunities, and they are organizing and digitizing their libraries in terms of the varying degrees of resolution, in terms of 3-D models and things like that.”
For companies not as far along the road, here’s a look at some issues to consider.
Larger File Sizes
One obvious difference between extended reality and other types of content is that XR files are much larger than standard graphics files. There are platforms under development, including some that Accenture is working on, that are expected to help users address that issue. But here again, advanced preparation is key. “If I have a catalog of 200 videos that I want to bring into an AR/VR platform next year, I should already be working on getting those assets prepped and cleaned and simplified,” Buchanan said. “Because the end customer will wind up running them on a phone, which is a fairly low-powered device, or a headset, which may or may not be tethered to a computer that may or may not have the processing power to render your high-quality content.”
But users should be concerned about other issues besides file size and the optimization of content. For example, marketers must be able to serve content in different ways for different devices and formats. What works for an Oculus headset may not work for a Google device or 360-degree video. “It definitely something that we are looking at and talking very actively to different clients about — especially clients with a lot of content,” Duboff said.
Industry watchers are predicting that ultimately there will be too many platforms and they will flood the market. Already there is fragmentation in the ecosystem just in terms of the number of ways users can experience content on Microsoft and Google platforms. Over time, it may be necessary to adopt new standards to make it easier to maintain and serve content across platforms.
New Modes of Content Discovery
Noting that marketers want consumers to find their content — whether it is a 360-degree video or a new AR app — Duboff said “I think you will see a lot of new businesses develop search engines and platforms to address this. Because right now we are not in an ideal situation — there is just way too much fragmentation.”
The emergence of AR and VR systems will usher in a shift in the way people interact. What marketers need to recognize, Duboff said, is that there are content formats and content technologies and that they shouldnít worry so much about the technologies. Instead, they should fixate on users' experiences with the content.
“It’s about getting closer to the content — the more personalized, more intimate content formats,” she said.