Google discontinued their Daydream VR headset and support for Pixel 4 in October 2019, but they still have a number of different initiatives within virtual reality including Tilt Brush, Google Earth VR, games from Owlchemy Labs, WebXR integrations into Chrome, as well as all of their augmented reality integrations with AR Core. YouTube VR is their largest VR initiative and has become of the largest repositories of 180-degree and 360-degree videos and user-generated VR content.
At Sundance, I had a chance to catch up with Julia Trost, lead content partnerships for YouTube Virtual Reality Team, as well as Sarah Steele, content partnerships lead on the immersive team, and runs a lot of their impact projects. We talked about the latest news and updates from YouTube VR, the applications on the various different VR platforms, their creator’s hub at vr.youtube.com, what type of immersive content they’re seeing from creators, and some of the 360-video advertising success stories that they’ve seen.
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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So continuing on in my series of looking at some of the action that was happening in and around Sundance of 2020, this interview today is actually with Google and YouTube. So Google's strategy within virtual reality has been a little bit hit or miss in terms of they've actually made a lot of great innovations when it comes to Google Cardboard. They were able to push things forward and get it out there. There's debates within the virtual reality community as to whether or not that actually was poisoning the well and having VR be not at the level that they needed it to actually take off. Google has always tried to do this at scale approach. And so YouTube is a platform that is at scale and actually have probably one of the most robust distribution platforms for 360 video that's out there. And again, a lot of people have really dismissed and discounted the merits of the 360 video medium, but they have thousands of different videos that are out there. YouTube as a brand has focused on user generated content. And so if you want it to get a 360 video out there, YouTube's a great option to be able to have a platform that supports the 360 format with a spatialized audio. Of course, there's a support for Facebook as well, but if you want to find it later, there's just ways in which like YouTube is still, I think at this point, it's like the number two site of all the internet. And so it actually becomes like the second most popular search engine behind Google itself. So at Sundance in the past, YouTube VR has actually had a whole presence and a house and shown different experiences. That was when the daydream was actually like still coming up, but the hardware development team has pretty much abandoned the daydream VR. It's probably just a matter of time before it reaches its full end of life, but. The latest version of the Nexus 4 doesn't even have support. So the whole hardware initiative from Google seems to be on the downturn. They still have things like Tilt Brush and Google Earth VR and what they're doing at YouTube. And in the background, they've also been working on the Chrome team of getting support out there for WebVR. They obviously have all these other initiatives when it comes to ARCore and augmented reality. That seems to be a little bit more of their focus at this point. So Google is not necessarily on the leaning edge of pushing for the hardware technology, but they're definitely creating some of the most popular software that's out there in terms of, you know, Tilt Brush and Google Earth VR and what they've been doing with YouTube VR. So I had a chance to catch up with a couple of folks from the YouTube team, Julia Trost and Sarah Steele, just to kind of catch up and see what's happening. They were having a brunch for a lot of the content creators. It'd been a couple of years since I've been able to touch base with anybody from Google. And so just to get a little bit of an update, what's been happening, what's going on and where they plan to go in the future with their whole initiatives and immersive storytelling and virtual reality. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Julia and Sarah happened on Sunday, January 26th, 2020 during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:03:09.543] Julia Trost: Hi, Julia Trost and I lead content partnerships for our YouTube virtual reality team.
[00:03:15.464] Sarah Steele: Hi, I'm Sarah Steele. I am a content partnerships lead on the immersive team, and I also run a lot of our impact projects.
[00:03:23.000] Kent Bye: So maybe could each give me a bit more context as to your background and your journey into the immersive space.
[00:03:28.680] Julia Trost: Sure. Yeah, so I've been at Google for a long time, 13 years, and I originally was on the sales side working on tech. Previously, before I came to Google, I was on the media side, so I'd worked at CNN, at Larry King Live, I'd worked at a magazine, The Atlantic. And storytelling and media, I love that. When I was in the ad space, I said, how do I get back to that part? And I had worked with a lot of technology companies, so I thought about, okay, tech and media and the blend of that. This is back in 2015, 2016. And then Google started to really get into the space, starting with Cardword in 2015, and YouTube in 2015, 2016. And so I came over to the Daydream team. 2016 within Google. As they launched the headset, Sarah and I got to be teammates at that point, and I fell in love with the medium, was on the entertainment content partnerships, working a lot on VR video. And with our Jump platform and a lot of the kind of new parts of the medium, and loved it, and loved my time with YouTube, and then moved over to YouTube VR two years ago.
[00:04:26.582] Sarah Steele: So again, I'm Sarah. I have actually been on the VR team since its inception at Google, and I've grown with it, and then joined Julia over on the YouTube side, but really started working on, initially, Cardboard, and the Cardboard campaign, the big campaign we did with New York Times, did a lot of the behind-the-scenes rallying for that, and then helped get our first Jump cameras out into the world in early stages. And then from there kind of grew to working with more and more creators and then moved to be in content partnerships. And so now it's really been about pulling in our VR endemic community and then also working with YouTube creators to help them better understand the format. And then here we are at Sundance kind of reconnecting with all of our favorite people.
[00:05:08.968] Kent Bye: Yeah, Sundays is a good time for me to get updates as to what's been happening with YouTube VR. I know, like, four years ago and three years ago. But it's been a couple of years. And so maybe you could just catch us up a little bit as to what's been happening with YouTube VR.
[00:05:19.154] Julia Trost: Sure. Yeah, so we've kind of evolved to thinking about, based on creator feedback, what's a way to make this stick? And what's a way to make this format easier, especially for YouTube creators? VR endemic creators, as we call them, that are experts in VR, have brought incredible pieces to YouTube. If you think about Baobab Studios, and they've been able to take advantage of the YouTube platform and put their content up. But also creators who don't necessarily know the medium yet, how do we bring them along and teach them VR? And that's been the focus for the last couple years. And Kent, you know, we launched VR180 a few years ago, and we talked about that. And more cameras have come out, and that's been an easier tool to teach creators and to give them the cameras and say, here are best practices, here are the things you should avoid. And some of the things we've learned over time is prepping your audience, that's really important for the YouTube creator community. They may not expect their creator that they've been following for years to do VR. And you want to be able to prep your audience and say, you know what, I'm going to try this. It's a new creative way for me to express myself and to tell what I want to tell. So I'm going to do VR, and here's how you watch it, and try to educate their audience. That's been something we've been really working on the last six months, last year. And we've seen good success there. So there's been some really good, I think, videos. Sarah can talk about your favorite pieces, if you want, that have come out of our programs. VR Creator Lab has been running for three years now. It's also been a focus globally. Sarah's been a great job leading that. So you can talk about that, too, on the community side.
[00:06:49.040] Sarah Steele: Yeah, I think kind of building on Julia's point, we've been, you know, the thing about when you come to Standing In is you're like, we're here, you know, we're so privileged to be here, but like how do we get this content out there to other viewers? And so I think our goal as a platform has really been to like scale the audience for VR and also educate users behind that, right? Like there's still a lot of people that are figuring out how do I view this content, what does it mean? So we've been both doing that, and then as the medium grows, How do you future-proof the platform and make sure that it can adopt and play back the types of amazing things that these creators are coming up with? So I think that's really been our goal, is to be available on all of the different hardware that's out there, and then also educating our users and YouTube creators and their audiences on how can they view and leverage this type of work. So yeah.
[00:07:38.962] Kent Bye: Can you expand a bit more on the Creator Program?
[00:07:41.434] Sarah Steele: Yeah, absolutely. So I think a big part of our approach was YouTube has its own set of endemic YouTube creators. And we built and put a lot of work into building programs and education that were like, you know, what is VR? And what is AR? And how should you think about these mediums? And, and here's the hardware and here's the access. And so we built this program called VR Creator Lab, which Marco Dinesi has been leading. And it's three boot camps, three times a year. We take up to about 15 or 20 channels. They go through a three-day boot camp, and with our partner VRScout, they get pretty much handheld through this process, and we'll put out three to four pieces, and we help them introduce it to their audiences. And so, it's really just about seeding that ecosystem and kind of building the knowledge, and then learning from that, right? We learn from them every boot camp on things that work and things that don't, and as you know, techniques for filming are constantly evolving, the storytelling's evolving, so that's what we've really honed in on is educating our users and our creators on this domain.
[00:08:40.626] Kent Bye: Yeah, I just came from the VR Cinema 1 and 2 program for the press screening, so I got to see all of the eight different pieces that were programmed here at Sundance, and as I was watching the pieces, the thing that I was thinking of, like, what is it about what this medium does? And what I was seeing over and over again is this theme of being able to capture specific contexts, and those contexts being able to almost be like this anthropological look of a society and a culture. But it has these different affordances of like, what's it like for you to travel around an area? What are the death rituals? What does this person's home look like after the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima? So there's this specific exploration of context, but also potentially new ways of exploring individual character by showing the person in different contexts. So I feel like there's a hero's journey and ways to think about traditional story, but I think there's new ways of just kind of diving in and maybe walking through someone's closet to kind of show their fashion and the whole range of identity expression. So maybe you could talk about how you started to think about the medium and its affordances and maybe some of the emerging genres that you see performing well on YouTube.
[00:09:45.453] Julia Trost: One that comes to mind is music so we've been able to work with a lot of music creators, Marshmello being one of them. Marshmello was already interested in VR and we were able to come to his team and say let's do something cool and he already had concepts of when he was going to release his album over the summer. How could we do vignettes for each piece of music on his album and come up with a concept in 360 all animated and take advantage of the medium to engage his audience in a different way and that was something we helped with but he led the creative vision that was something that was really successful for his audience and something that we were you know proud to be a part of and I think that's been music's been an interesting one. The impact space is obviously a genre, and to your point, it's lended itself really well. Sarah led a series called Courage to Question. You've heard us talk about the female planet that came out a few years ago. Those are all series where we've been able to use a medium to really bring the audience along, to make them feel like, okay, I'm next to a powerful female leader, and I'm watching her as she goes about her day-to-day, and I'm learning from her. If I can't be a mentee of hers, in person, I can use VR to do that. And then courage to question, feel free to talk about some of the impact space.
[00:10:57.264] Sarah Steele: Yeah, no, thank you. I think the impact space is a classic one, right? Like, I think Chris Milk teed it up for us with the empathy machine a few years ago, and it has been the gift that keeps on giving. But that is another thing we put thought into was like, how do you empower nonprofits? How do you use multi-surface storytelling to go a little bit deeper into stories? And we've seen a lot of success with these mediums. Julia mentioned Courage to Question, which was really a POV perspective, and one of the first couple of pieces we did in VR180, which was a format that we brought to this space because we wanted to kind of get rid of some of the friction that 360 brought, especially, you know, with YouTube creators that are working with traditional cameras, and we've actually found that type of filming to be really successful. It shoots more like a traditional camera, DSLR, and audiences love it, right? Because there's this whole side to things, which is our audience is understanding what they're looking at, and we've seen actually a lot of positive feedback on VR180, which personally was actually a surprise, because when I first heard about it, I was thinking, oh, we're just cutting 360 in half, like we're going back, and actually, it is its own genre, and it has its own use case, as we would say.
[00:12:07.283] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, can you talk a bit about all the platforms that you're on for, like, YouTube VR app? Or even, you know, you have accessible through a browser, so there's potential ways to get access even if you don't have a native app. But maybe talk about all the different platforms you have native apps on.
[00:12:20.459] Julia Trost: Yeah, yeah. So we have a native app on PlayStation VR, Oculus Quest, and Go, or Oculus. Daydream, then you can access YouTube VR content on Cardboard, obviously. Samsung Gear VR, we're pretty much, that's one of the values of our platform is that if you have any headset, you're able to access YouTube content. And then we also find that a lot of users are accessing VR content on their phones just through the YouTube app. That's another place that we've learned we need to make sure that someone on their phone understands that they're watching a VR video. And that's when we say user education. We're working on making that a better experience so that someone understands, OK, the best way to watch this content is going to be in a headset. But if you don't have a headset and you're on your phone, here's the way you can experience it, different from just a standard rectangular video. If you have a VR180 video, you can move left to right, up and down. And if you have a 360 video, you can move all the way around. So that general user education has been really important. But we do like to, a huge goal for us, and we checked the box in 2019, once Quest launched, was to make sure that YouTube VR was on all headset platforms, and then also a good experience on your phone.
[00:13:29.288] Kent Bye: Is there a Windows Mixed Reality native app ecosystem, or is it just on the PC?
[00:13:33.070] Julia Trost: Sorry, and then we've got, on the Steam side, we've been able to put out YouTube, but I feel like The biggest focus right now has been Oculus. I would say that's been a big evolve, and that makes sense, right? It's just where the user base is, but not on Windows Mixed Reality.
[00:13:48.812] Kent Bye: And I'm curious if you have any breakdown in terms of the percentages of the 360 content, how many people are watching it in VR natively, and how many are you getting exposure for the portal view and not in VR?
[00:14:01.044] Julia Trost: Yeah, so we can't necessarily share specific statistics. I would say the majority are on their phones, which makes sense. But a good portion of people are watching it in headset, and we feel like we want to help grow that. But we also need to meet users where they are right now. And that's where we're spending time to make sure the phone experience is good. So by far, the mass majority is on your phone. But we see with Quest, that percentage is changing. With Go, that percentage is changing. So when headsets are becoming, they're selling more, and they're becoming more popular, and they're becoming better, that helps everybody. And that means that more users are tuning in on their headset.
[00:14:37.197] Sarah Steele: I think the only thing I'll add to everything Julia said is with kind of this rise of 5G there's this resurgence and interest in VR content coming from a lot of different companies and part of the reason that we spent so much time trying to get the YouTube app on so many platforms is because it's a pretty fragmented market for both creators and users. So if you think about creators having to do different builds for each different headset, and if you think about users that are like, I want to watch VR content, but where do I go? We felt that YouTube is a very recognized brand. And if you could just view it on all these different platforms, it also helps. For us, it helps creators just have one kind of go-to spot, at least for 360 video or 180 video that plays back on all these different platforms.
[00:15:23.643] Kent Bye: And I'm wondering if I could get a bit of an update on Daydream, what's happening with Daydream. Because I know with the Pixel 4 that came out, it didn't have Daydream support, which I think a lot of people saw that as not necessarily a good sign for the future of Daydream. But obviously, Google has YouTube. There's Tilt Brush. There's the Google Earth VR. There's these other projects, and ARCore, and augmented reality, phone-based AR. There's a lot of stuff that's happening in the immersive space that's still moving forward, conversational interfaces with the virtual assistants. Where is Daydream at, and where is it going?
[00:15:56.164] Julia Trost: Yeah, I mean, I think the Google side can answer this, too. And we came from the Daydream team, so we're very intimately familiar with the evolution of Daydream. But I would say you hit it right on the head, where there's the services and the platform side that have really become VR for Google. And that's YouTube and Tilt Brush and Google Earth VR. And those have really shown being able to scale out to users. And so that's where VR is focused at Google as a company now.
[00:16:19.902] Kent Bye: Oh, and there's also WebXR that I know that Brandon, so Chrome launching with WebXR. I don't want to sort of skip that, which Chromium being a part of the whole WebXR ecosystem has been a huge part as well.
[00:16:30.875] Julia Trost: Right, yes, of course. So I would say that the Daydream team has a huge focus on augmented reality now. And Google Lens is a big part of that. ARCore is a big part of that. Thinking about how you reach billions of users with AR, that's a huge focus for Clay and his org now. And they can speak to the intricacies of what that looks like in detail. But as far as VR as a company, it's focused at YouTube now.
[00:16:57.580] Kent Bye: So what's next for the AR VR space, YouTube VR from Google? So what can you tell us about what's on the roadmap?
[00:17:05.970] Julia Trost: So, okay, I want you to answer this too, but we'll continue to work with creators and we want to make sure that there's ROI for them when they're spending a lot of time creating VR content, more time on VR than they do with rectangular videos. So we also want to bring brands along in the space and make sure there's, you know, monetization and that opportunity to pair brands and creators. when it makes sense. So those are areas we want to focus on, continuing to educate the community, making sure we have a great site that Marco and Sarah have launched recently, vr.youtube.com. It's a hub site, and any creator can go there and learn, how do I create a 360 video? How do I create a VR180 video? What does it mean to display the content in a headset? What does it mean to display it on a phone? Users can understand better where they can find all of our YouTube native apps, which headsets can they buy. That education generally of how you create and how you view, we set that up in 2019. We want to continue to build that out in 2020 as a scale so that anybody, it's more ubiquitous, anybody can grab a camera and create something good and put it on their YouTube channel. Continue to think about creator programs and what do those look like? And then think about what is AR going to evolve to be on YouTube? It's there in the branded space, in the fashion and beauty vertical, but could we evolve that to be more on the storytelling side? Are there other verticals we could expand into potentially with AR? Virtual YouTubers is another thing. It's not necessarily immersive, but it's a different way of representation. And it's taken off in Japan. And what could we do with that medium? Can we bring it to a different part of the world? And would it be popular in a different part of the world? Can we help support that? So those are all kind of areas that we're focused on this year.
[00:18:43.630] Sarah Steele: I think Julia covered it really well, actually. I don't have a ton to add.
[00:18:46.632] Kent Bye: OK. Well, maybe you just set a bit of a context of what this gathering is here and who's here.
[00:18:52.587] Sarah Steele: Yeah, so this is our, you know, obviously we are at YouTube, so we work with a lot of YouTube creators, YouTube channels, and we also want to stay in touch with our VR, what we call VR endemic creators, which are these incredibly well-versed VR, AR, XR creators that annually come to Sundance. So this is our annual pilgrimage to reconnect with this community, see the latest amazing projects in the field, and talk to them about their hopes and dreams, hear them out, and kind of see where we can meet and support them. So this is really just an opportunity to reconnect with that community and make sure that our platform is responding to their needs as well. And yeah, I hear they're cool secret projects.
[00:19:34.785] Kent Bye: As you were just talking, it reminded me at the Impact Reality Summit, Quora VR was showing an ad that was a 360 video. It was a 360 degree space safari, so trying to invoke the overview effect produced in collaboration with Orsted. But they were pushing that out as an ad on YouTube and seeing that they were getting a lot of engagement. And so is that something you're starting to see more of, of people using the 360 medium as a way to really capture people's attention and engagement?
[00:19:59.496] Sarah Steele: We've actually seen huge success with brands and ads. I think two examples I'll bring up, and Julia probably has more detail, but Maker's Mark was a partner that we worked with that released a holiday 360 video that was in an ad format, and it received, I think it's at 13 million views now. So it really got a lot of traction. I think people love the medium. I'll let her elaborate.
[00:20:20.350] Julia Trost: created it in 2018 as a VR180 video and they brought in YouTube creators Kurt Hugo Schneider being one of them and the holiday tie-in was that they knew that old-fashioned was the most popular holiday drink and they said okay why don't we show you how to make an old-fashioned in the ad but make it fun and holiday and not feel like an ad and it was perfect and they did it Very kind of this mystical feel to it, so it was holiday-ish. Heard Hugo Schneider was playing Auld Lang Syne, and they used it in 2018, and it was successful. And then they decided, you know what, this can kind of be evergreen holiday content, so let's use it again in 2019. And now they went from 1.3 million views from 2018 to 13 million views in 2019. So that just showed you, okay, you know, they saw success and the user comments from 2018 and 2019 were really strong. I think one user even said something like, I don't ever follow, you know, go to a brand site after I watch an ad, but in this case I did. So that's what you want. And VR180 gave MakersMark a different medium to kind of connect with their audience. And that's the kind of thing when we say we want to help brands and connect them with creators to do more. That's a focus for 2020. It helps creators monetize. That's something we see a lot of potential in.
[00:21:27.421] Sarah Steele: If I can just add a closing comment to on top of that, which is like one, you know, brands and VR are successful collaborations. And this can go for nonprofits or creators. But I think one thing that's important to us as a platform is a lot of times these VR pieces get locked in the festival circuit, and they never really make it out of that. And I would urge creators to think about like, Once you're done with the festival circuit, get your piece out there. It's there. People should see it. And so I think thinking of YouTube and partnering with successful YouTube channels or successful YouTube creators is a way to just get more eyeballs on these pieces you put so much work into. So I think that's just what I'll put out there as a call to action, and then to close this.
[00:22:08.456] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you each think is the ultimate potential of virtual reality and immersive storytelling, spatial computing, and what it might be able to enable?
[00:22:18.252] Julia Trost: I think to me the ultimate potential is that connection and that stickiness of telling a story and having someone able to remember it because they connected with it in a different way than just a 2D screen. That's the ultimate. How can you do that in a way that many, many people can experience where you don't need to understand the underlying technology, you don't need to understand the industry buzzwords, but you can figure out, how can I experience this piece and then connect with it? I'm just thinking about one of the pieces here that I hope has a life after the festival circuit, Book of Distance. It was incredible. I've never been put in the position where I was leaving Hiroshima in 1933 and going over to Vancouver in British Columbia. being a Japanese immigrant, right, and going through internment during World War II and losing my family in Hiroshima. I would never have had that context and then being able to see that piece, I saw it here at Sundance. I think the ultimate potential is getting that out and making it easier to get that out to people who aren't able to come to the festival circuit, exactly what Sarah said. And then they feel that, and again, it's back to the empathy machine, but that connection with content and then you remember that story. you remember that perspective in a much more meaningful way than if you had just watched that story on a 2D screen.
[00:23:31.554] Sarah Steele: Yeah, I think Julia hit it on the head. And the way that I would almost put it is like fine-tuning another art form, right? Like, there's so much potential in this to create really meaningful experiences. I think we still have a little bit of work to do, both on an industry perspective, hardware perspective. it's all growing but it's all really getting there and I think you and I both over the past four years have really seen the storytelling evolve to where we're hitting instances where these mediums really do make sense and the interactivity is meaningful and so I really see it as like fine-tuning another art form and another way of expression and and just having get to a point where it it sits right alongside theater and film and TV as like just its own standalone way of expression.
[00:24:16.731] Kent Bye: Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?
[00:24:21.133] Julia Trost: You know, the immersive community, I just feel it here when we're at Sundance, but it's just such a, and this isn't just lip service, it's such a good group of people, and we've all been here for four or five plus years, and it shows this resilience of ups and downs in the industry, but we're all still here, and we believe in it. And that's just a special community of people. And I would just say, as I said here, the talent and the way that this is evolving, I'm inspired by that. And I continue to be inspired by that. And I love this group of people. It's an inclusive group. And I just feel lucky to be part of it.
[00:24:52.662] Sarah Steele: Yeah, exactly. I mean, stay diverse, stay resilient. Like, we're all here for each other. And whether, you know, you're a up-and-coming creator or a big platform like us, like, we're all in this together. So it's very collaborative. And yeah, keep up the amazing work, guys. That's what I want to say. And the feedback.
[00:25:10.314] Julia Trost: The feedback of what YouTube could be doing better, I think, continue to give us feedback from a, you know, YouTube creator perspective that are newer to VR, but also from the people in this room that are VR forward-looking, XR forward-looking, boundary pushers. We want to continue to get feedback on what we can do to better serve this group.
[00:25:28.774] Kent Bye: Well, if the two major parts of a communications medium is the content and the distribution medium, YouTube VR is right there helping to really solidify what the 360 video and 180 video as a medium can do. So yeah, I just wanted to thank you for all the work that you're doing there and for being an outlet for people to actually get the work out there. So thank you.
[00:25:45.919] Sarah Steele: Thank you. Thank you for representing the voices of VR.
[00:25:50.192] Kent Bye: So that was Julia Trost. She leads content partnerships for YouTube virtual reality team, as well as Sarah steel. She's the content partnerships lead on the immersive team and runs a lot of the other impact projects. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all. Well, just to hear what is up with Google, I mean, even at Google IO, they've kind of dialed back over the last couple of years in terms of their emphasis on virtual reality. I think Ben Lang from Road to VR went last year and he was like, you know, having trouble to even see a daydream headset anywhere that's showing any type of experiences at all. And so they've really been. focusing primarily on the AR core and augmented reality features, you know, really trying to integrate that into more and more of their products. I know on like Google maps, you have different augmented reality capabilities, Google lens, integrating different aspects of artificial intelligence. And so at this point. I don't know if Google will come out and do another version of virtual reality headset. I hope they do. They just recently open sourced Google cardboard so that at least they are not trying to hold any sort of proprietary aspects of that just to get it out there. And, you know, for education, you know, this is something that I talk a bit about in terms of thinking about the technology diffusion curves and how like there's this curve that goes from the genesis of an idea to the early custom bespoke implementations to then the mainstream, and then fully into mass ubiquity. And that there's certain sectors that are out there like education as an example that tends to lag behind maybe two or three years. And so there's still like a good use cases for education for teachers to be able to have something like the Google Cardboard and be able to show experiences on YouTube VR or National Geographic or things like the New York Times where you have these different 360 videos that are out there and still be able to take your students on a field trip and to be able to use it within your curriculum. But, you know, I think at this point, anybody that's serious about virtual reality sees it as a bit of a novelty, or even like at worst seeing that these types of very low end virtual reality headsets poison the well, because it may give people a bad first time VR experience in that it nowhere near shows what's capable of a fully room scale, six degree of freedom. with your whole body tracked within virtual reality and something that's on your, your head that you don't have to actually hold up. And, you know, the ergonomics of everything, just the difference between a Google. Cardboard and a full fledged immersive virtual reality experiences is massive. So I could definitely see the point, but I think my point is in terms of accessibility and trying to get it out to many. different groups, there's going to be different technology diffusion curves, and I think actually for a lot of different creators that I've seen over the years, a lot of them start off into making 360 videos and then eventually they want to maybe transition into making something with a game engine like Unity or Unreal Engine. And Google has also been having like the Stadia was like their cloud platform to be able to render video games on the back end and to distribute it out over Wi-Fi. And so I expect at some point that they're probably in all likelihood working on some sort of game engine type of integration into YouTube. that would not surprise me because they've already done a lot of great experiments on digital light fields and volumetric filmmaking. And, you know, they have a lot of the compute power in order to actually render that out. And so a couple of big things that I expect to see at some point over the next couple of years from Google is like a WebXR implementation of Google Earth VR. So being able to actually get Google Earth onto like a web browser without having to download an app that I think is probably on the technological roadmap and certainly feasible just in terms of the political will to be able to actually pull that off. And I'm sure it also really pushed the edge of what's possible with things like WebAssembly, which recently Google along with Mozilla held a whole one day summit for WebAssembly. So I know that internally within Google, they're doing a lot of work to be able to innovate what's even possible with WebAssembly and to potentially render out what used to require native apps on your computer. Are there able to eventually get at that point to be able to render out something like Google earth VR? That would be amazing if they were able to pull that off and to be able to see that within like a web VR experience. I think they've already been trying to convert that over natively into a 2D version, but to see it in a fully immersive VR experience, I think would be amazing, especially for a benchmarking and to see what's even possible for the web. So that is a vector that I hope to see a lot more work from Google. But just to think about like, what would it mean to have like a whole other endemic game engine within YouTube as this distribution platform, because they're a little bit of a dark horse when it comes to VR distribution. I don't think a lot of people really notice a lot of the different experiences that are out there or what's even happening. Like I said, at the top of the podcast, like YouTube is like the number two site by traffic. Second to Google itself and so it's an absolutely huge amount of people are watching different content on there And so to be able to put content onto YouTube and to get it out there and to have a portal view into virtual reality They were talking about makers mark old-fashioned 180 degree VR there in 2018 They put it out and then they promoted it again and then it kind of went viral in the sense of over 13.9 million people as of the recording of this podcast And this interview that I did earlier with Cora VR talking about this space so far and 360 video, great overview of fact to be able to take a 360 video, go up into space and come back down, really powerful potential of what's possible with this 360 medium. So I'm excited to see how people continue to do different narrative innovations with 360 degree video medium. and to be able to get their foothold into VR and to eventually go off into other disciplines and domains. I still think that 360 video is a medium that has its own affordances, but there's still gonna be immersive storytelling innovations that happen within 360 video that people can experiment and do different experiences within 360 video. It's just a lot cheaper to be able to actually experiment and to learn more about the affordances of the medium to be able to start with the 360 video. And having things on Oculus Go or the Gear VR or the Oculus Quest or on SteamVR, you know, they're pretty much on all these different distribution platforms. You know, I don't know if they're on any of the distribution platforms for Windows Mixed Reality, but if you have Steam, you're able to include all the Windows Mixed Reality headsets in that anyway. So, again, I think Google is a bit of a dark horse in all of the different stuff that's been happening. They're still doing Tilt Brush and Earth VR and Google Polly is also a great place to see a lot of different content. I'm not sure if they've continued production on things like Google Blocks and So brush obviously is an amazing tool that a lot of folks have been using. So they've been really knocking out of the park and a lot of the different immersive spatial computing design frameworks. And I think they're applying that all to what's happening with augmented reality. And I hope to see eventually at some point, a little bit more clarity is what their longterm plans are with virtual reality. Um, maybe at the Google IO this year, or I don't know, at some point, maybe get a little bit more of a sense of if they do plan on making more hardware or creating headsets that do both AR, VR, I'm not sure, you know, they've kind of rekindled the Google glass for the enterprise use cases. And they have devices on Android with billions of phones out there with Android to be able to push forward different aspects of AR. So, that's all I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a list-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So, you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.