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How XR will shape

media, entertainment,
and advertising
How XR will shape media, entertainment, and advertising

XR had a great year

All the talk of VR disillusionment aside, Insights from NYC Media Lab’s
2017 was a very good year. Exploring Future Reality conference,
November 30th, 2017
Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook,
Sony, and others increased investments to Research based in part on panels with:
make virtual reality, augmented reality, and
• Ori Inbar, Founder, Super Ventures
mixed reality (VR, AR, MR respectively, XR
collectively) available to billions of people. • Matthieu Lorrain, Head of Creative
Innovation, The ZOO, Google

Many of the most visible applications may seem • Agatha Bochenek, Head of AR/VR
silly – from doggie-faced selfie filters to pocket- & Mobile Ad Sales, Unity
monster hunting apps – but the the reality is • Chris Hercik, Chief Creative Officer,
quite serious: these technologies are acclimating The Foundry, Time Inc.
the world to a state of altered reality.
• Roger Kenny, VR Design Tech Lead,
Dow Jones Innovation Lab
XR is still only in its infancy, and as brands adopt it
• Rori Duboff, Managing Director of Content
they’ll harness an entirely new medium to broadcast
Innovation, Accenture Interactive
messages that the world has never seen.
• Steven Feiner, Professor of Computer
Science, Columbia University

• Matt Hartman, Partner, Betaworks Ventures

• Jessica Lauretti, Global Head, RYOT

• Kyle Li, Assistant Professor, The New School

• Can Misirlioglu, Group Creative Director, Studio6

• Tereza Nemessanyi, Entrepreneur-

In-Residence, Microsoft

• Chaki Ng, Senior Vice President, Viacom Next

• Ken Perlin, Professor of Computer

Science, NYU Future Reality Lab

• Agnieszka Roginska, Music Associate

Professor, NYU Steinhardt

• Keith Soljacich, Vice President of

Emerging Technology, Digitas

• Adaora Udoji, Investor & Producer

• Yasmin Elayat, Co-Founder and

Creative Director, Scatter

How XR will shape media, entertainment, and advertising

1. The Medium - This is not TV 2.0

For those investors hoping that we’d soon see a VR The XR medium will open new doors to human
headset where every TV once stood, 2017 was probably creation and perception. But before that happens, it
a rude awakening. VR is not a TV replacement. It’s an must overcome its present technological hurdles.
entirely new medium that requires its own approach.
For one, headsets are still clunky, tethered,
It’s perhaps better to think of XR as a new set of very underpowered, and largely reliant on the same
different digital channels. As videographers, game technology used in Victorian-era stereoscopes which
designers, journalists, playwrights, and creators of used side-by-side pictures to create an illusion of
all stripes explore it, they’re finding their old tools three dimensions. This induces nausea in some and
don’t quite fit. There are no optimal camera angles it’s only with technologies such as light-field viewing,
for an immersed viewer. Movement poses problems the innovation behind MR startup Magic Leap, that
for tethered participants. And storytelling takes on a viewers will comfortably stand long sessions.
new meaning when viewers have freedom of choice.

Stereoscopic technology Something new

1889 2014 2016 2018

For AR, the outdoors pose a challenge. It’s difficult to For that to happen, artificial intelligence (AI) will be
control for lighting conditions or hazardous objects critical. AI will allow XR devices to learn user behaviors
such as moving vehicles, and the system requirements and populate virtual worlds. “They’re inseparable,”
needed to layer virtual objects upon actual ones – a said Ori Inbar, founder of Super Ventures. “In the near
process known as registration – are prohibitively high. future, one will not be able to work without the other.”

Hardware and content creators must work more More sensors and increased connectivity will also
closely and evolve beyond cheap tricks if they want smooth out VR experiences. Steven Feiner, Professor
to deliver on the promise of ‘immersion’. Volumetric of Computer Science at Columbia University, identified
video and 3D audio capture are needed to help the use of eye-tracking technology as a way to
viewers believe that objects in VR are moving in anticipate users’ needs. And Inbar asserted that a
space. Creators must harness other senses, such as cloud storage system would allow XR systems to
touch and smell, and XR devices must get smarter. exhibit object permanence over multiple sessions
and connect users in multiplayer experiences.

How XR will shape media, entertainment, and advertising

“Until now most of the AR experiences are typically one

person, one place, one device,” said Inbar. Once people
are connected and there is a network effect, the entire
landscape will change.

The spectrum of XR tech challenges

Wireless headsets Cross-platform Light field view/visuals Room scale

extensibility interact with environment

Faster computing XR Cloud

Volumetric capture Vergence accommodation


Full spectrum of senses Eye-tracking technology

(3D audio, haptic feedback,
smell, biometrics, etc.)
Conversational interface

Full human field of view Siloed hardware/

software creation

How XR will shape media, entertainment, and advertising

2. The Message - Brands are gaining fluency

Consumers crave just the sort of new perspectives that Which brands are leading
XR can deliver. According to the Harvard Business
Review, all brands must ask themselves not whether to
the XR conversation?
participate but instead, “What is our VR/AR strategy?”
XR allows media brands to turn up the emotional
volume on their storytelling. It goes beyond text,
“It’s a new media, but we’re images, and video to fool the senses and create the
feeling of complete transportation. Agatha Bochenek,
still using old metrics” Head of Mobile VR/AR Ad Sales at Unity, the engine
Matthieu Lorrain, Head of Creative upon which much of VR content is built, attested to
Innovation, The ZOO, Google this. Her team monitored players of a VR horror game
and found that they exhibited the same biometric
responses as they would if the terrors were real.
Just as with the web and social media before,
brands must define what they stand for as they Roger Kenny, VR Design Tech Lead at Dow Jones,
figure out how to articulate it. They must evolve decided that VR was a good fit for the Wall Street
beyond storyboards and sample clips, which no Journal after asking “What’s the most compelling
longer suffice in an immersive medium. The same way we could possibly tell a story?” The Wall Street
goes for measurements. “It’s a new media, but Journal’s 360-degree videos aim to tell stories that
we’re still using old metrics,” said Matthieu Lorrain, offer a more immersive experience. The New York
Head of Creative Innovation at The ZOO at Google. Times and The Economist have similar initiatives.
“Brands are still thinking in TV terms and aren’t
measuring empathy. Hopefully that will come soon.” According to Hercik, LIFE magazine is finally realizing
it’s founder’s vision to transport people anywhere
What’s the best way for brands to approach XR? Chris by including AR activations in print editions. “We’re
Hercik, Chief Creative Officer at the Foundry, Time establishing a single app that does VR and AR
Inc., thinks it’s by experimenting heavily and early. that all of our brands feed into. We’re building a
Google has taken a similar approach. “There are a lot massive audience for a single brand,” said Hercik.
of pilots and a lot of experimentation to understand
the right platforms for the right stories,” said Lorrain.

How XR will shape media, entertainment, and advertising

“How do you achieve Agencies and schools are

mass-reach engagement nurturing XR
but still have it be deep XR storytelling is evolving most rapidly at advertising
and meaningful?” and creative agencies and their associated studios,
Agatha Bochenek, Head of AR/VR Ad which are pinched between a shifting media
Sales, Unity economy and heightened pressure to prove their
worth. As agencies and brands bring each other
new ideas, they form a valuable melting pot from
XR is also making advertising and commerce much which great XR innovations are emerging.
more immersive. The agency RYOT Studio uses
QR code activations to bring movie posters to As the market expands, individual studios are
life and as of this year, AR shopping has become starting to specialize, a key indicator of long-term
commonplace for retailers such as IKEA and Amazon. growth. Scatter, a studio in Brooklyn, focuses on
volumetric filmmaking for documentaries while
The advertising industry has also embraced XR. Arup, an agency in London, has a fast growing
Bochenek and her team are creating an ad platform 3D audio and acoustic consulting arm.
with units that run cross-device and populate in
multiple formats. “How do you achieve mass- At schools, similar pressures to adapt are inspiring
reach engagement but still have it be deep and innovation. The New School, New York University,
meaningful, rather than just inserting a 2D object?” Columbia University, and the School of Visual Arts all
she asked. “That’s what we’re exploring.” offer VR programs and workshops. And in 2018, New
York City will launch the first publicly funded lab for
Films like HYPER-REALITY by Keiichi Matsuda virtual and augmented reality in the United States,
catalog all the ways that VR and AR could go wrong aided by a $6 million investment by the New York City
by depicting a world cluttered with virtual ads. But Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the
Lorrain believes that consumers will have the final Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME).
say. “I’m sure someone will create the AR version NYC Media Lab will assist in its development, with the
of pop-up ads. But at the end of the day it’s also intention of creating over 500 jobs within 10 years.
about what users choose to interact with. Hopefully
they won’t engage with those kind of things.”

How XR will shape media, entertainment, and advertising

3. The Consumer -
What does a virtual humanity look like?
Today, VR in particular is still held back by “an ‘I’ve Once the desire is there, consumer tastes can adapt
tried it’ problem,” said Rori Duboff, Managing Director and VR may become habit. Though XR headsets
of Content Innovation at Accenture Interactive. may still look strange to many, tastes change
quickly. It was only a decade ago that iPhones
Consumers are happy to try VR, check the box, and launched and it became commonplace to see
move on – for a number of reasons. There are the people everywhere hunched over pocket-sized
clear technological limitations, such as clunky headsets mirrors. Where might we be in another ten years?
and nausea-inducing images, but there is also the
lack of truly outstanding content. Without enough The path forward depends on brands. How can they
emotionally evocative experiences, consumers see represent themselves in a virtual way? What stories
VR as a novelty. But once they are truly moved, they’ll do they have to tell or new perspectives to offer? It
see past the tech and talk about how it made them will be up to them to help consumers reach beyond
feel, much like how they talk about movies rather simple entertainment to make XR more than just tech.
than about movie projector screens. If consumers
can be moved, that may be the tipping point.