Kick-starting the Doghouse Labs Initiative

What is Doghouse Labs?

We're excited to be kicking off a brand new initiative called Doghouse Labs.

This will be a space for developers, start-ups and innovators to come and experiment and join in the discovery of the next generation of user experience.

To begin with, we are rolling out the latest and greatest in consumer-grade VR hardware, and over the coming year will expand into different frontiers, including 3D printing and haptic feedback.

We're taking the first steps into a relatively new and unknown area of technology, and if you're also an adventurous type we hope that you can join us!

Why VR?

Exactly what is a business renowned for web doing with Virtual Reality anyway?

As a CTO, it’s my mission to look to both the past and to the future in order to guide strategy here and now when it comes to technology and its adoption.

I’ve been eagerly watching the development of AR and VR since the first time I played Doom at Zone 3 in the 90’s.  That place was the bomb, by the way.  Soda, candy, laser guns and VR.  What more is there to a kid’s life?

(aside: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/04/you-can-play-the-original-doom-in-vr-ag...)

Back then, however, VR didn’t quite take off.  Plagued by a number of issues including the lack of head tracking, low fidelity screens, heavy hardware, not to mention the cost of the equipment put it out of reach of the average consumer.  Oh, and constant motion sickness for the majority of users meant "Lawnmower Man" would have to wait a generation or two.

What has changed?

Nowadays, I see a technology that has been steadily improving in the background for several decades and is now entering the nascent stages of mainstream adoption.  The tech still has a way to go before it reaches total immersion, but we’re now at an MVP point.

From the moment I received my Oculus DK2 and experienced the beginner demos, I felt a potential that I had not experienced since the early days of the web.  This tech reaches beyond gaming and simple thrills and promises to disrupt the way we live our lives, much like mobile devices in the 00’s.

Once we find that “hook”, I feel this tech will firmly embed itself in our lives, whether in this generation or the next. In the same way we naturally navigate google maps or order meals online, virtual representations of reality will become the new normal.

But why VR?

While consumer altered reality hardware is improving in quality and availability, much like the web of the 90’s, we’re figuring out just what this new technology is capable of and where it fits socially.  This is where I draw parallels with the early web; current Virtual and Augmented Reality represents a huge unexplored landscape full of risks and opportunities; the good, the bad and the ugly.

From both a business and personal perspective how could one resist the urge to venture forth and discover new things in this wonderful new landscape? 

On the technical front, individuals and businesses are throwing all sorts of ideas out there to see what will stick. Is room-scale VR the future?  Will we interact with our AR using voices, gestures, or wearable controllers?  Will we see a revolution against skeuomorphism as we did with web interfaces while we find more efficient ways to experience 3D user flows?

On the social front, we’re hearing many of the same arguments we've previously heard regarding the early web and gaming industries; how exactly is this technology going to fit into our lives, for better or worse?

What can we achieve?

Fundamentally, at it’s core, we’re all really asking: “What’s the point of this new technology?  How can it be of benefit socially and commercially?”

Being invested in this discovery process is why we’re kickstarting our Doghouse Labs initiative, with an initial focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality and future plans to expand into other emerging technologies.   We’re keen to explore and share our findings in this space, with our key focus being on expanding the commercial and social viability of the platform.

It sounds like a lofty goal, because it is. We’re going out on a limb here, but the way we figure it, participating in this emerging field takes relatively little effort when considering the potential rewards, as opposed to standing by and waiting for all the i’s to be dotted and t’s crossed (and all the fun to have been had already by others).

How do we make it happen?

This is where it gets real.

Setting up the hardware is the easy part.  We’re not just buying some headsets to sit in the corner gathering dust as part of a failed marketing initiative.  We’re seriously interested in hearing from people with new ideas for the technology, partnering with startups at a grass-roots level.

We’ll provide both the technology and the development space.  We have years of experience in business models, workflows and production processes to bring to the table.

In return, we want to hear your awesome ideas and be given the opportunity to get on board.

If you’re in, fill in the form over on our Doghouse Labs landing page and we’ll be in touch!