Oculus Go: Small Groups the Catalyst to Catapult VR into Mainstream
I've written already about VR's place in the big "C" church's plan and how pastors like DJ Soto are paving new grounds for Christianity, but Oculus Go accelerates the timetable for everyone else. The virtual reality space has high-end players like PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC’s VIVE and low-end experiences like Samsung Gear VR (powered by Oculus), Google’s Daydream, and Google Cardboard.
Estimated units sold as of 2017:
- PlayStation VR - 2 million
- Oculus Rift - 500,000
- HTC’s VIVE - 500,000
- Samsung Gear VR (powered by Oculus) - 6.7 million
- Google’s Daydream - 2-3.5 million
- Google Cardboard - 10 million
Total estimated VR devices = 22 million
(Sources: Polygon, Engadget, Fast Company, vrfocus)
Oculus Go feels like a game changer because the design and features make it somewhere in the middle of the previously mentioned VR devices. The barrier to entry will attract more users away from the reduced down Cardboard experience and mobile dependent setups because of the easy to use social apps. The device isn't positioned as a fun add-on for the family, but a valuable tool to socialize with your community. Think of Oculus Go as the phone to chat with your friends and Rift/VIVE as the upgradable gaming device that also allows you to chat. What makes Oculus Go useful is how it leverages the Facebook network. I'll explain more in a moment.
What is impressive about Oculus Go:
- it’s only $199
- no PC or mobile phone needed
- built-in speakers, which is a big bonus for social apps
- Oculus software works with Rift and Samsung Gear VR (integrated community and app developers)
- Available for Andriod and iOS (previously iPhone user didn't have a VR option)
- Facebook integration is killer (friends list, photos, video, & Facebook Live)
- Oculus Rooms with party feature (limited to 4 people)
The Oculus Rooms app is what stood out to me right away, which allows you to meet with people in a private space. Think Zoom.us or Skype. Adding friends to your party is easy because of the Facebook integration. On your main menu hit "Friends" to see who currently is online or offline and invite them to your party. In your party, you can launch a private room, play games, watch something in the media area, throw up an image from your camera roll to the screen (helpful for meetings), or chat. Now, PlayStation and Xbox have had a party feature for a while, but people come to those platforms for the games, but the social experience in VR is much more than just chatting during a Raid.
I want to quickly add something about Facebook Spaces because it's not on Oculus Go yet. I'm assuming Facebook Spaces will function much like Oculus Rooms with more Facebook-specific features (currently only on Rift and VIVE). Facebook Spaces has a chance to be the long run play for small groups because its cross-platform and video calling feature allows those without a VR device to still interact.
The intuitive part of Oculus, versus something like a regular online meeting, is the tracking of head motion, 360 audio, and hand motion through the remote. In VR spaces this is called the 3 degrees of motion tracking. Devices like Rift and VIVE track 6 degrees of movement. 3 degrees appears to be enough to create a lifelike meeting in VR. You know in VR if someone is paying attention based on where they look (head motion) or how far they are from you (360 audio). The immersive element of VR brings a lifelike type of focus in which you can't multitask. If you pop off your device to check your phone or laptop, you get grayed out (default offline setting). VR makes you pause and pay attention (until they build a multiple window feature).
The knock on VR is the escapism, but don't we need to get away for our meeting times? I can't tell you how many times I'm about to jump on a video call and I'm trying to find the best-lighted area with the least amount of distractions in the background. VR and meetings help each other. Yes, the avatars need to get better, which Oculus is already working on, but at the core so much is possible today!
What if your meeting is larger than four people?
You can use third-party apps like AltspaceVR or Bigscreen. The issue here is these apps are more setup for public spaces and not private meetings. Most likely Oculus will introduce a larger group feature soon, but why wait? Small groups can start leveraging Oculus Rooms now. I believe the small group features will help bring more users and engagement which will catapult VR into the mainstream. Oculus Go leans into Facebook's social platforms as opposed to gaming culture like PlayStation VR and Rift. Also, Oculus Go is cheaper and easier to use.
How can online small groups use Oculus Go right now?
- Encourage everyone to watch the video (or read the chapters) for your group meeting before gathering (What does a typical online small group meeting looks like?).
- The host starts a private meeting using Oculus Go Rooms app.
- Invite everyone to the party using the "Friends" tab on the main menu (make sure you are Facebook friends before the meeting).
- Take a screenshot of the questions for your group time and link your camera roll with your Oculus mobile app (go to settings to enable). When you enter the room display the image of the questions on the screen in the media area.
- Discuss the questions like a regular small group session in virtual reality.