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Interview: XR in 2021 with Blend Media CEO Damian Collier

/ about 2 months ago
This week I caught up with Blend Media CEO and Founder, Damian Collier, to discuss the successes of Extended Reality (XR) adoption in the last year, and try to predict where Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) might take us in 2021.

How has Extended Reality (XR) changed in the last year?

In 2020 we saw a shift in working and our use of technologies that we couldn't have predicted and we've been seeing requests from clients for everything from Virtual Reality (VR) training all the way through to Augmented Reality (AR) filters and games. There were many more of us at home in 2020, and so consuming an increasing amount of content on digital platforms; we've seen that reflected in the type of immersive content briefs we’ve had come into Blend Market, from more immersive ways to launch music albums to an increase in requests for VR education content, not to mention 360 video travel content!

XR in 2021 with Blend Media CEO Damian Collier, watch the full interview with Damian here.

What AR and VR experiences stood out to you?

If you said to me a year ago that I'd be doing regular gym classes in VR I’d question how that’s going to work, with a headset and wearing something on my face, but it's blown me away. FitXR has a range of different classes, I don't do the dance ones but I do enjoy the boxing ones which are incredible. The classes are really high energy and engaging, a great mix of gaming and exercise, I’m not a big gamer but it's really compelling and something that I can really get into.

From an entertainment perspective what immediately comes to mind is on the Oculus platform a David Attenborough series called Micro Monsters. It was bite-sized snackable content that was three or four minutes an episode, but you were really engaged by these creatures like you're there in it watching an aphid clone itself. The way it was filmed was incredible, through 3D stereoscopic, really high-quality sound I was completely enthralled.

Where do you see AR and VR benefitting our lives this year?

I think people are getting a bit bored of Zoom and video calls; whether it's us talking to each other, or children on Google Classroom, there's a lack of familiarity with that as a way of communicating and a lack of connection. I think we're going to see platforms like Engage and other VR platforms where you can connect in a virtual world come into their own.

Facebook has been very vocal about Horizon, which is the virtual social network that it’s developing, and I think that went into a closed Beta last year so I can imagine we're going to see a lot more of that this year.

There's a lot of virtual VR meeting apps that are being developed at the moment which is really encouraging. When it comes to meeting in VR we've used Spatial and others that are just really high-end, engaging and highly functional. The ones that I think will succeed will be those that allow participants to join both in a VR headset and on via a browser because then there’s no barrier to entry. Along with that, I think we’ll see a lot more development on avatars and hyper-realistic avatars. There's a lot of platforms out there that are doing great things in avatar creation to produce photo-real avatars, platforms like Facebook are investing heavily into that to get it right to ensure the essential sense of reality and engagement is there.

Blend Market is the first immersive marketplace dedicated to connecting clients with a global community of thousands of skilled creators and solution-providers with hundreds of relevant skills across the entire Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), 3D and Mixed Reality (MR) spectrum. Find out more about Blend Market here or contact us at hello@blend.media