What makes Fisherman Labs different?
Fishermen Labs focuses on creating great digital products and experiences. We believe that there have already been some major market shifts: consumers expect much more from companies when it comes to the user experience of the digital products they use, technology is rapidly changing, and the companies that have both great content and platforms are the ones that are succeeding the most. Most agencies nowadays focus exclusively on marketing, whereas we focus on the product and the experience. We hire the best product managers, designers, and programmers that are able to quickly adapt to the changing environment and create something that not only looks great but that functionally works for millions of users from a design and technical perspective. We believe very few agencies have the know how to do these things well.
The VR market is an emerging market. Some people think its growth is dependent on improved quality, some lower cost, some applications. How would you describe the market evolution and its enablers…
I think it's very difficult to say whether VR will be successful from a consumer standpoint. The barriers to me are clear: better content, lower costs, and better devices (better resolution, inside out tracking, wireless). But even if these barriers are cleared, I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that consumers will use VR in the future. I think there's certainly a case to be made, but that's a bit too speculative for me to argue now. That being said, I do think the path to success on the enterprise side has already been paved. Training and education are two ways that VR is proven to work. Would you rather read a 200-page manual or go through a VR video game for education? Would you rather read a textbook or experience the concept real time? These answers are clear.
Where does VR/AR and data science/artificial intelligence overlap? Are you looking for some significant breakthroughs in the next couple years? Please explain why
One of the main barriers of the long-term success of AR is watching the evolution of the computer vision industry, or the ability for a computer to see anything and interpret what it is and what to do. This will happen eventually and there have been some tremendous strides in this area over the last couple years but there's an overlap between computer vision and data science. In order for the computer to process that amount of data, we also need to see strides in data science as well - computers need to be able to see patterns and make connections quickly. I personally, don't think we've seen that much interesting in artificial intelligence. What we're able to do better today is to process much more data, much faster. Part of me feels like the reason why "AI" is so hard is that humans aren't always the most rational creatures.
What kinds of challenges did you have to overcome to encourage adoption of VR/AR by your clients?
As with any investment, clients always want to know what the ROI is. We're always balancing a tightrope between being an R&D firm that focuses on technologies that may not have use cases today, but may in the future, and product development of technologies that launch and are expected to have ROI today. We believe companies need to do both of these (see the book Innovator's Dilemma). In order to get past these challenges, we're trying to convince companies that they need to invest in the future, and at the same time, showing them the applications today for a given technology. As I mentioned above, there are VR applications today that we know are effective, they just may not be the ones that the masses are thinking of. So we have to look at both the near term and long term applications of a technology.
Customer experiences are changing. What kind of experiences do progressive companies want for their consumers today? How has VR/AR helped that happen?
I think that what companies have wanted to do hasn't changed and that is to get their product in front of customers and to convince them to buy it. Customer experiences change because technology enables them to do more, faster, and in a different way. Progressive companies need to see technology as an enabler for them to do what they always have done. VR and AR is just another medium for this. VR gives consumers a fully immersive view of something. There are so many ways this can be used but that would depend on what product we are talking about. I strongly believe that AR will be the next medium post mobile phone. This isn't going to happen overnight and I still think we're at least 5-10 years out before we see a mass scale AR product but imagine being able to predict the rise of the iPhone and all the ways that would change your business and the different ways you would invest. In an AR-driven world, we'll be able to layer user experiences and products everywhere in the physical world and this will create an even more picky consumer on great interfaces as they are inundated with even more information.
How do companies the experiences that you help create? How scalable are these products?
It really depends on, there an aris&D product that we make that don't scale to anyone outside of the executive team and then there are mobile and web products that we've worked on that have reached millions of people.
How is AR/VR changing our understanding of “branded” marketing?
I don't think there's been a huge direct impact on branded marketing yet, but there is a trend that we are seeing where branded marketing is dying. Young people don't seem to care as much about brands as they do great products. VR and AR gives companies even more of an opportunity to show the difference between their product and a competitors because of the immersive nature of both, and this is more important than ever because brands aren't as powerful as they used to be. I would say the biggest place that I see movement in with AR branded marketing is in Snapchat. Snapchat is by far the largest consumer adoption of AR as of yet and is a sign of things to come. Companies need to start investing in 3D assets and content that users will be able to interact with like the famous dancing hot dog. It's not enough to just have video, the 3D needs to have some level of interaction.
What would be AR/VR impact a company’s ability to capture and maintain customer loyalty?
As with any platform, if companies are able to capture a user onto a platform they are much more likely to maintain strong customer loyalty. A platform could be something as simple as a great user experience on a website and it could be something as complex as a brand new AR platform.
I don't think companies need to shoot for the moon, but in every place that a customer interfaces with a product, the experience needs to be excellent. I can't tell you how many bad apps I use from companies that have tens of billions in market cap. It doesn't make sense to me why they can't invest some more money and time on creating a better app or website. Customers aren't going to put up with horrible experiences for long so companies need to invest in both creating better products today, and then focus on the huge platforms in the future that consumers will be on one day.