Virtual reality has the potential to add value to people’s media habits, with certain kinds of experiences having a very positive impact but it needs to fit into people’s lives easily, and be as simple and intuitive as watching TV says BBC research.
Explaining the rationale for its increasing involvement with VR, the BBC said that as younger audiences move away from traditional media, it must ensure it has the expertise in new mediums like VR to continue providing them with world-class public service content. It adds that as a public service broadcaster that reaches 95% of the UK population each week, the question over mass adoption is crucial. Only weeks ago, its Taster division revealed details of the latest move by the corporation to examine the potential of VR with a free app available for Android and iOS platforms.
In the research with Ipsos looking at virtual reality usage in homes across the UK, the BBC study followed eight teenagers and eight adults using virtual reality over three months.
The study found that VR has the potential to add value to people’s media habits, with certain kinds of experiences having a very positive impact, including walking in someone else’s shoes to better understand the world; experiencing something you wouldn’t normally do; learning more effectively; and removing all distractions.
Yet the study also cautioned that there needs to be better curation and content discovery, and a higher supply of quality content that is ‘worth the effort’ of leading an audience on a journey. It found that experiences without a narrative or goal tended to fall flat; by stark contrast, experiences with good story-telling or clear objectives worked well.
It also identified what it called four challenging areas that need to be kept in mind when assessing the opportunity VR presents. Namely: the occasion in which VR will be used; the hardware; discovery of content and the current poor user experience; the play-out.
In a call to action from the findings of the study, the BBC advised that there needs to be greater consistency and open standards in what is currently a fragmented market. This it said will provide a better experience for audiences and greater certainty for content creators, so they can produce experiences not limited to a small set of costly closed devices.