Ask the experts: 2017 VR Trends

Virtual Reality, VR Headset, theater, audience, Made in NY Media Center by IFP

New year, new improved technology? What ideas and platforms will surface? What companies will keep up on their promises? All valid questions you might ask yourself as we are in the beginning of a new year. However, one thing is for certain, here at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP we love to keep up, and be part of the latest media and technology trends. We are always looking to partner up with projects and companies that are pushing the boundaries of innovation. This is the case with our long time partner Datavized, a New York City-based startup focused on data-driven publishing for the 3D Web. In preparation for our third VR event at the Media Center on January 12th, we spoke to Debra Anderson and Hugh McGrory, of Datavized, to talk more about what we can expect from WebVR, AR, MR, 360 video and even Drone Mixed Reality in 2017.

Read the full interview with Datavized below.

What are the biggest trends in content we will see in 2017?

Debra: With the emergence of WebVR, (AR) and (MR) and AI getting a lot of attention, I think we’ll see more experimental and innovative hybrid content workflows start to get traction. I had hoped 2016 was the Year of R&D for VR but it now looks like 2017 will be better, thankfully, because we need more experimentation out there and support from platforms to encourage creators to design, build and test out new tools and interactive experiences to see what’s recently possible. Drone Mixed Reality is a thing!

Another trend we are seeing is the money being put into content. Content creation trends are driven by where the marketing dollars are being spent and that has been driven by the hardware manufacturers – the big companies like Google, Facebook and HTC – with the Oculus Rift store, Facebook 360 and HTC’s Steam platform driving developers to publish content and apps.

As such, we’ve seen a lot of content in games and entertainment, primarily created through tools like Unity and 360-degree spherical video in 2016. We’ve seen super high production ‘room-scale’ experiences, droves of apps and a ton of 360 video, mostly monoscopic though, but it has proven to be a huge gateway for consumer audience adoption with brand partners and news organizations now with their own 360 news channels, such as The New York Times The Daily 360. When I made my first VR documentary in 2015, YouTube 360 didn’t exist yet.  It’s just phenomenal, the rate of exponential growth, Moore’s Law and the radical transformation of human-computer interaction design.

Finally. I have to add that with the WebVR community growing with tools like A-Frame from Mozilla and the WebVR API on track for standardization into modern browsers in early 2017 for WebVR support in Chrome for Daydream, and Cardboard soon after and for Oculus Rift and Vive on Windows Desktop, the immersive 3D web is fast-approaching with support to make the Web a full-fledged platform for VR experiences (follow updates at The infrastructure of the Metaverse is literally being built right now and it’s going to change everything; how we live, how we work, how we play, and how we dream.

Sounds like there is a lot going on on the content side of things. What about hardware/software? What are some trends we can expect to see there?

Debra: On the hardware, controllers are key for natural gestural interaction, letting your hands do things in virtual space. Oculus’s Touch motion controllers were released in December for $199 and can work in ‘room scale’ (like HTC Vive provides). PlayStation VR has Move wands. Being able to see your hands brings you closer to immersion. Google’s Daydream View headset is designed to be mobile and is paired with a controller.  Accessible, affordable and user-friendly is great – consumers still think the hardware is too expensive. On the high end, hardware products need to compete on immersion and interaction, hence VIVE is the most popular VR headset.

Time spent in VR is primarily desktop, but mobile beats out on consumption. Cheaper headsets, better content and WebVR (democratization of VR content) are what’s needed to move VR to mass adoption. Other factors like the comfort of the wearable, the set up and the platform itself are also other factors.

Software – This is the year for WebVR. Watch this space.

Is it getting easier to make VR content and how would you recommend getting started?

The best tools right now are free. Like A-Frame, a web framework for building virtual reality experiences with HTML that work across desktop, mobile, and VR headsets. It’s really empowering to start building VR on the web in a few lines of code.

There are a ton of educational opportunities too. You can join several Meetup groups like WebVR, Unity developers, NYVR, and NY Women in VR where these communities are sharing tools and best practices. If you are looking for a one-stop-shop in discovering resources to getting started I’d recommend checking out

And the best camera is still the one in your pocket. Check out Google Cardboard Camera to take stereoscopic photos and videos and pop it in a Google Cardboard.

And the best camera is still the one in your pocket. Check out Google Cardboard Camera to take stereoscopic photos and videos and pop it in a Google Cardboard. 

Audience members trying VR headsets during Film Week 2016.


Speaking of Google…Can you talk a bit about what Google Daydream means for the future of VR? 

Hugh: Google Daydream is very important. Firstly, it’s mobile and that’s how most people in the world connect to the Web. Secondly it’s affordable at $79. And thirdly it has a hand controller so that brings touch into the equation as a third sense with sight and sound.

For executives, there seems to be a debate going on about how scalable VR can be, and many seem to look at AR as a safer investment. Is it an either/or situation? Can you explain what benefits VR has over AR from a business standpoint?

Hugh: VR and AR are different but that does not mean that the hardware we use for them will be. The idea of ‘Mixed Reality” is gaining traction. The simple way to think of the difference is that VR completely removes your real environment, replacing it with a virtual world, while AR overlays information on top. However, the two essential elements of VR, Immersion and Presence, are unique to the medium and do not work the same way in AR. Immersion guarantees total concentration and presence generates strong feelings like empathy.

So let’s say I’m an executive looking to invest in VR right now. What are the right opportunities? What are the challenges? What’s transformative?

Debra: VR is a disruptive technology, the opportunities are really everywhere and in every industry from health and education to games and entertainment, to architecture and real estate. Whatever your role and skill-set, the challenges for each of these industries involve designing for the first affordable 3D display.

Phi Centre’s VR Garden during Film Week 2016, featuring work from Felix + Paul, Gabo Arora, Oculus, and more.


So far we have seen a lot of VR being used in the entertainment sphere, where else can we expect to see VR in 2017?

Debra: Gaming will continue to lead in content and platforms will start to differentiate themselves as demand for content curation will increase. We’ll start to see an increase in applications in education, and social, health/medicine and enterprise. The industry is still young, it’s an ideal time differentiate products and services and really carve out your niche.

Earlier this year we saw the AR game Pokémon Go explode, what did this tell you about the future of VR and its adaptation?

Debra: Mobile is everything. Communication is mobile. Virtual and Augmented Reality experiences that can be experienced via a mobile device or in a web browser are reaching their audiences where they are, bringing VR/AR to them. VR Systems that are expensive and tethered are ideal for ‘room-scale’ experiences but as seen with Pokémon Go, for VR /AR to succeed at scale, it needs to be mobile-ready and a seamless delivery experience.

What are your predictions for VR in 2017? Do you agree with the experts?