Standardizing VR could be a disaster, but so could free rein

Virtual and augmented reality are two technologies which are promising a lot for the telecoms space, but standardizing the technology could lead to its downfall. Then again, free rein could be anarchy.

So here’s the theory from Jason Thibeault, Executive Director at the Streaming Video Alliance, speaking at one of the panel sessions at Big Communication Event in Austin. VR is a long-term investment and opportunity, but the space is moving incredibly quickly. When it comes to the development of content, or the technology to facilitate delivery, progress is being made meaning any standards would become redundant or possibly restrictive in a very short period of time.

To write rules today means the innovators of tomorrow have to follow them. On one side of the argument, guidelines and rules prevent divergence and the mess which can be created from a lack of interoperability, but this is still a technology in the exploratory phases of development. Fixing any focus down one path might prevent more effective solutions or alternative thinking from advancing, potentially negatively impacting the industry.

It is a complicated place to be. The technology industry has shown on several occasions that it is not responsible enough to be left to its own devices, and who is to say aggressive moves from one of the major players could not bring the space into disaster, but red-tape should be viewed as the enemy here. Big thinkers and innovators like to push the boundaries and explore the dark corners, which is exactly what is needed for VR right now. Can rule markers stand in the way of progress?

While this is a conundrum to ponder, another big question to consider is what is the opportunity is for the ecosystem. Here is where patience is needed, as the promised fortunes of VR are unlikely to be realised for decades. As it stands, basic content might be deliverable over current networks, but this experience is unlikely to be the immersive dream. Another question to ask is whether operators would allow the streaming of such data intensive content without throttling the user. We suspect not.

A lot has to change before the dream becomes reality, including network architecture, content development, consumer behaviour and manufacturing, but this is not a technology which is likely to fail if managed correctly. As Thibeault put it, VR is the next stage of storytelling.

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