On the ground in the VR industry
Keynote VRWorld London
This time of the year is always a bustle with Expos and Conferences across the industry and the fast-paced VR industry is no different. Alas we live in an age of mis-information and ‘fake news’ so for the most part I’m a great believer in seeing with my own eyes. It is important to find what direction things are going in order to keep up with ‘the curve’.
Earlier this month at the ARVR Innovate conference in the RDS I got to peruse the state of the art of the VR industry here in Ireland. This was followed last week in Limerick with the opening of a terrific new facility in the form of the Confirm Research Centre for Smart Manufacturing. This is a resource co-funded by industry with Science Foundation Ireland to help advance digital transformation in terms of Internet of Things and Industry 4.0
Then this week I spent two days at the VR World Conference in London listening to Europe’s leading authorities speak on the state of the VR industry and looking at the exhibitors from around the globe showing their wares. All this helps me grow my own knowledge on the business to shed light on where it is all going.
On the topic of market intelligence, I advise that one must keep one eye on Ireland’s premier VR developer’s award winning Virtual Reality Education on their foray into the stock market. Have a look back to March 2017 when they received a €1m investment that has led to them closing in on a £40M valuation today on the stock market. This is a serious achievement by any standards and we extend our congratulations to David and Sandra Whelan and all others involved. You are a shining light on the business here in Ireland and beyond.
At ARVR Innovate I got to ask a key backer of their’s, Barry Downes, if going public was influenced ‘by a need to attract talent to the company?’. I see the lack of suitable candidates as a key inhibitor to the growth of the VR industry. This same issue featured strongly in many of my conversations with industry colleagues at the show in London. Where are we going to get talent to grow our firms? This will be high net worth employment as this traction flourishes and right now the formal education system, colleges and Skillets etc are not responding .
Here in Athlone things are progressing too as we welcomed a third recruit to our team this week. At 3Ms we are more than a little around as our numbers swell. We are investing for the future in a team, that I can affirm, can hold its own with any other in terms of creating virtual experiences. Those of you who know me will know that this statement I make lightly with respect to my industry colleagues and goes with my humble nature…. However a month spent in the trenches, visiting expos and conferences, collecting market intelligence, tells me we are on track. As I said before, the biggest inhibitor of growth for this burgeoning VR industry is talent.
Proud Class of 2018 Game Development in Dundalk IT
But there is a good note to finish out on…for every generalisation there are anomalies. Yesterday I went to Dundalk where a team from the Dundalk IT Gaming Development Class of 2018 were giving a presentation to a panel for their degree submission (I was invited in as s spectator). This particular team’s project was a Mixed Reality training tool for engineering giants, ABB built on a HoloLens platform. I had been fortunate to get a preview of the work earlier last year and had deemed it ‘the best HoloLens use’ case I had seen to date.
After watching the presentation all I can say is….Wow!!! The guys presented a well thought out project from design to delivery. They had covered the spectrum in terms of planning, execution and deployment across the board using visual, audio and interaction with user Interface and experience included.
My own conclusion is that I can assure all of you that the future of the AR/VR industry is in safe hands up there in Dundalk. The work this young group of lads has completed is not only a credit to themselves but their lecturers in as well. The work would hold its own with any similar one on view in Earl’s Court this week. I left with a weird sense of pride to have been ringside for the event!
As a post script I just want to say that earlier in the year I participated in an industry consultation session for a proposed programme, the Higher Diploma in Science in VR/AR Development to help the VR industry. This was delivered by the faculty of Visual and Human-Centred Computing in Dundalk Institute of Technology. Springboard for those not familiar with the concept are an up-skilling initiative in higher education for qualifications in areas where there are employment opportunities in the economy. Sounds about right! Tragically the near sighted decision makers failed to recognise what the dogs in the street know and failed to qualify the course for funding!!
HEA, HSE…all the same eh! All with the vision of a mole at the bottom of a coal mine!