Why YouTube believes Virtual Reality is next big thing on the computing platform. The shift in user interaction with our phones and devices will go from looking at them to using our fingers, eyes and bodies for a fuller experience.
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. Google’s YouTube video site attracts over 1 billion visitors monthly to watch mostly linear videos.
But just as Google has expanded its core mission of organizing the world’s information to such side projects as driverless cars and bringing high-speed Internet to under-served areas, the company also sees Virtual Reality video storytelling as another frontier to tackle.
VR–those “360 degree” videos you see on YouTube and Facebook now with the ability to shift the point of view from side to side, is “the next big computing platform,” said Tom Small, the manager of Google Technology Programs Friday.
In the not too distant future, “ we won’t be looking at our phones,” he added “We’ll remove the screen and interact with data with our fingers, eyes and bodies.”
Small spoke Friday at a Virtual Reality storytelling seminar held here at the Los Angeles YouTube Production Space, in a session co-presented with the Sundance Institute.
Moira Griffin, senior manager of diversity initiatives for Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, said getting people of color involved on the ground floor is vital, if for no other reason than to avoid the sort of diversity nightmare the Hollywood industry faced with this year’s Academy Awards, when only whites were nominated for key awards.
If not now, “we’re going to be left behind,” when VR eventually becomes mass market, she says. “So instead of having to play catch up, we want to make sure people are in at the early stages, and understand how the technology works.”
In looking at the categories that will be popular in VR, Small pointed to several:
Gaming, adult entertainment, virtual tourism, real estate and journalism topped his list. Many (with the exception of porn) are currently available for viewing on YouTube’s http://youtube.com/360 channel.