Virtual/augmented reality and its potential was a key theme with two of the speakers at one of the first panel discussions of the day at ICE on Tuesday. Amitabh Ghatak Head of Product Development at William Hill, Founder of Winistry Gerard Cunningham and Playtech’s VP of Product Strategy Liron Snir spoke on the topic of device innovation, and new devices that’ll transform how the industry bets.
Ghatak highlighted the importance of ensuring an enjoyable user experience from start to finish. The team at William Hill Labs in Shoreditch is currently working on a Virtual Reality horse racing product. Utilising Oculus Rift users will be able to look left and right to see rival jockeys during races.
Having also discussed the Apple Watch and William Hill’s innovative customer experiences including the integrated Racing Post app, Ghatak ended with a reference to the team’s motto: ‘Move fast and break things.’
Gerard Cunningham, Founder and CEO of Winistry, was the most enthusiastic of the speakers in regard to the future potential of virtual reality. As the founder of social casino games provider Koolbit and Betfair USA, Cunningham has moved from innovative product to innovative product and views virtual reality as the next big step in the gaming and gambling industries.
Winistry is a virtual reality gaming company based in Silicon Valley.
Cunningham said: “What’s great about virtual reality is that it’s immersive.” He also focussed on the fact that each virtual reality product has the option for complete individuality, and moreover stressed the importance of offerings on mobile. He put it that mobile would be the channel upon which most will focus as it offers greatest potential to reach users due to its affordability. The Samsung Gear VR for example is currently £80, giving it a notable advantage over the likes of Oculus Rift which is expected to cost upwards of £500 ahead of its UK release date in March.
Cunningham also touched on the predicted value of the augmented and virtual reality market. One report by Digi-Capital estimates that by 2020 the value of the augmented reality market will be $120bn (£83.3bn) whilst its close associate virtual reality will add a further $30bn (£20.8bn) to its overall worth.
How long before users at large adopt virtual reality remains questionable, and content catered specifically for this market will be one of the many challenges which lay ahead for operators and developers looking to ensure virtual reality becomes popular sooner rather than later. With the Oculus Rift set for release in the near future after its introduction as a concept four years ago, this year and next will be a formative period for both virtual and augmented reality products.