By Tom Ffiske
VR/AR and metaverse analysis every Wednesday and Sunday // 17 April 2022
In Italy with family, and struggling to complete hard Sudoku. A perfect weekend.
Pico’s impeccable timing
Time to analyse Pico Interactive entering Europe with its Beta programme. After its leadership in China’s consumer VR market, ByteDance’s VR outfit is rolling out its hardware throughout May and June and seeing how it goes. I hope that it offers more competition in the consumer VR area, offering an alternative to Meta’s hardware (as well as HTC, HP, Varjo, Valve, PlayStation etc).
Professionals quickly drew the parallels between Meta and Pico. Both VR contingents are backed by massive social media companies that are using their flush of finances to grow their projects quickly. Both also run their own stores, and want to deliver standalone 6DoF experiences with their hardware. With these circumstances, both companies can play the long game safely, tapping their expansive coffers if necessary.
With the launch, Pico Interactive has some high hills to climb:
- Price: The Pico Neo 3 Link is €449, compared to €349 for the Meta Quest 2. The consumer VR market is price-elastic, where the cheapest headsets tend to move the most units, regardless of quality (my analysis as to why). Casual shoppers may look between the two and choose the latter.
- Stores: The Oculus and Pico stores offer many titles, with some games appearing in both (Demeo, SUPERHOT). We may see a situation where both have ‘exclusives’ to draw users into their ecosystem, similar to PlayStation and Xbox. Pico needs time to develop a cohort of exclusives to bring people to their stores.
- Reputation: While Pico has (rightfully) thrived in China, Meta continued its rapid deployment of Quest and Quest 2 units across Europe (save Germany). Marketing campaigns complemented the expansion, cementing Meta as the go-to brand for casual users. The strategy worked, with Steam’s data shows that the Quest 2 is the most popular headset as a result. Pico lacks the same level of presence, and needs to rapidly work in a complex multi-language region to build its reputation.
I want Pico to succeed. A diversity of VR headsets is necessary for a healthy and thriving market, and Pico’s years of expertise offer a competitive set of horns to lock against Mark Zuckerberg’s empire. The road is long, but the destination looks bright. We will see how Pico uses its time throughout 2022 and beyond as it continues its expansion.
Supported by Black Public Media
Creative technologists from Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, South Africa, and the United States will participate in PitchBLACK Forum: Immersive. The winner will receive $50K USD in funding, and the runner-up will receive $25K. Projects include AI, 360VR, 6DOF VR, projection mapping, and AR projects. Watch the contest on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 13:00 ET and 19:00 CET.
Never be anxious about the next day
Justin Wiggan, Sound Artist
What is your background?
I’m working at the frontiers of arts and public intervention. My practice includes a range of media from sound, phonics, film, drawing, installation, interventions and performance which sits in collaboration across the medical research and creative industries sectors.
My works have been exhibited nationally and internationally: B.O. M Birmingham, Protein Gallery London, Baltic Gallery, Citric Gallery Italy, Gigantic Art Space New York. My aim is to educate, share and engage people with sound as a creative field and reconnect with their lives using sound art.
I also extend my artistic practice into collaborative research in galleries, youth homes, and public access spaces with community groups and leading workshops within areas of vulnerable elements of society, palliative care, mental health and education.
I run Glass Twin LTD, a company that uses sound as a tool to promote mental wellbeing through technology, reflection, nostalgia and memory. Glass Twin LTD is a sound and health-focused company that aims to improve community resilience and individual wellbeing through a simple, accessible process that reconnects us with the world of sound.
What are you working on, and what’s a key learning that you’ve had from it?
I’m working on a project at the moment called Echo Point. Echo Point is a bespoke sound file that plays a carefully curated and structured soundscape, which helps the user to redirect negative emotions and enter a state of calm to improve emotional mental health and create a resilient community.
I have developed a process that uses sounds to influence breathing to foster sustained resilience and reduce agitation with mindful actions in the daily life of its users. The aim is to create renewable mental health through sound through an interventional breathing and listening activity that will redirect negative thoughts. These then adapt into more positive ones resulting in positive behavioural change, both in personal space and social space.
I’m currently working with the Immersive business team at Falmouth University’s Immersive Business Lab to develop a virtual reality / augmented reality version of this provision for care homes and prisons. A key learning is that everybody has a back catalogue of sounds that they deem to be calm and relaxing that they’ve collected through life but they may have forgotten to access.
If you had to give one piece of advice, what would you give?
It’s old advice and has been tried and tested for thousands of years…“Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Each day has enough of its own troubles.”
If you want to know more about Justin Wiggan, check him out here.
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Curated by Tom Ffiske every Wednesday and Sunday, and enjoyed by over 5,000 professionals.
Editor, Immersive Wire
Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a twice-weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.