Q: Why do we need a VR Industry Forum?
A: There are well founded concerns that this nascent industry will be fragmented by numerous proprietary solutions such that content will have to have multiple versions to fit each of these. The consumer will be limited in choice to having to adopt one of these proprietary solutions so that we end up at home with a coffee table with as many head mounted displays as we had remote controls in the past. The short term time to market advantage of such proprietary solutions is overshadowed by the much greater longer term advantage of having standards based interoperable elements at each section of the creation, delivery and consumption chain.
Q: How does the VR Industry Forum differ from other industry associations such as the VRAR Association, the VR Society and the Immersive Technology Alliance?
A: First and foremost, the VRIF has an end to end perspective; from the initial creative story telling through to the human consumption. This involves a lot of moving parts that all have to work in synch for the best user experience. Other associations have a bias towards certain verticals such as gaming or certain sectors such as Head Mounted Displays. We are a Forum rather than an Association meaning that we come together to exchange ideas and to seek a greater understanding of a very complex creation, delivery and consumption model.
Q: Who are the founding Members of the VR Industry Forum?
A: The Founding Members are a diverse range of organizations ranging from operators such as Sky and Verizon, to broad technology providers such as Ericsson and Huawei, to industry bodies such as MovieLabs and CableLabs to academia such as Baylor University. The Forum is open to anyone who supports its goal of furthering the widespread availability of high-quality audiovisual VR experiences, for the benefit of consumers.
Q: Will the VR Industry Forum be creating standards?
A: No. The VRIF has enshrined in its Bylaws the statement that it is not a Standards Defining Organization but instead, will work closely with the SDOs to help prioritize their efforts and to provide the industry with guidelines on the best practices for adopting the standards coming from the SDOs.
Q: When will the VR Industry Forum deliver its guidelines?
A: We see an immediate need to resolve the fragmentation already appearing in the “VR Media” ecosystem so we can expect some initial results in 2017.
Q: What advantages does the VR Industry Forum bring to its members?
A: Membership in the forum will allow organizations to have much greater influence with the SDOs in their task of creating standards and in advocating for their universal adoption. It will also allow influence in the creation of Guidelines that will facilitate such adoption. Being part of this Forum also brings involvement in interop testing that will accelerate product and solution development.
Q: Will the VR Industry Forum be conducting interoperability testing?
A: We are in the early stages of our formation but already see a need for interop testing to validate our goals of creating best practice guidelines. To this end we are open to all organizations at all parts of the overall ecosystem and by being so can create end to end plug fests. The more members we have the better any such testing will be.
Q: What types of membership are available at the VRIF
A: We have 3 levels of membership. The first is at the Charter level for companies who want to bring the biggest influence in the direction of this organization. Charter members can run for Board positions. The Contributor level is for organizations that want to make a difference but perhaps do not have the resources to devote to board level activities. Finally, there is the Associate level for smaller companies with revenues less than $10m per year, for academia and for not-for-profit organizations
Q: What are the origins of the VR Industry Forum
A: It came from the combination of 2 informal initiatives. One from DTG and Harmonic who convened a meeting at CES2016 with a handful of companies all concerned about the potential fragmentation of the emerging VR Industry. The second was started in parallel by Ericsson with a broader collaboration across the industry addressing similar concerns but initially triggered by the prospect that 5G will emerge as a great fit for VR with dramatic increases in unicast bandwidth with low latency; two essential items for the best VR experience. It started to come together at NAB where Ericsson, DTG and Harmonic organized a dinner with 62 representatives from over 40 companies getting together to discuss ways in which cross industry collaboration can help cement the adoption of standards and accelerate the growth of this sector. This event was then followed by bi-weekly calls that grew the size of this “VR Interest Group” to over 200 people from 70 different organizations. At IBC 2016 a meeting was held where it was concluded that the necessary next step in this evolution was to create a formal VR Industry Forum and here we are.