"I think the XR industry is on the right track now" - Antony Vitillo (SkarredGhost.com)
Antony Vitillo is mostly known in the XR community as @SkarredGhost, a Torino-based influencer and developer who just celebrated 5 years of blogging on immersive topics. And this year, he joined Louis Cacciuttolo’s VRrOOm company to work on more virtual worlds and live events.
How did you start in the immersive industry (blog included)?
Antony Vitillo - It all started with my thesis on Computer Vision in 2010: during my research, I read something about how it was possible to show virtual elements on top of real ones. I did not know that this technology was augmented reality, but I got interested in such a possibility of mixing different realities. Then in 2014, a previous classmate of mine invited me to join his venture of creating an XR startup, and as soon as I tried the first Oculus Rift DK2, I fell in love with it. We started working on a full-body VR solution, and at the same time offering consultancies for third parties, like for instance marketing campaigns. But it was hard to make a living out of XR… the hardware was heavy, clunky, expensive… companies did not even know how to use it in its productive processes.. the industry was not ready yet.
A. V. - Anyway, I was in love with the medium and so I kept working with it all over these years, and it has been amazing seeing everything improving! Now we have much better VR systems, and we also have special accessories to give haptics, or even the sense of smell and touch. And also the ecosystem is growing from a business standpoint. So, now, I can finally live by doing XR as a job.
A. V. - My job is like… two jobs actually. My main job is being a developer/technical lead, both at New Technology Walkers, where we offer consultancies and we build products of ours like the game HitMotion: Reloaded; and at VRrOOm, where I help shape the VR events of the future.
A. V. - My side job is being a blogger/evangelist. It started with me sharing on Twitter some VR news I was reading and engaging with the other people of the community. Then, in 2016, a mentor at an accelerator and some friends of mine invited me to create my own website... and here we go: now it’s been 5 years! When I started writing, people started to read them and follow me, and as of today I still don’t really know why! I wrote more than 800 articles, I’ve been called to speak at events, and to collaborate on books… I met so many great people… my blog opened me with a lot of amazing opportunities!
A. V. - I like to help people understand the XR industry, both with hardware topics and content/software news. My primary job gives me the opportunity to work hands-on with many technologies, I’m completely involved in the topics I am talking about, and so it is easier for me to talk about them in depth. I like the idea that the blog can help people to understand XR better. It’s all about sharing my own experience and helping others. And sometimes this also brings me new business opportunities.
Do you consider the XR industry stronger after the Covid-19 pandemic?
A. V. - XR (or VR) has followed the usual Gartner Hype cycle. Some time ago everyone was saying “Oh, VR is dead”, but then the technology went through that moment. In the last two years I think everything’s been on the right track. Leading technology companies (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, NVIDIA, ...) are working on it, the ecosystem is healthy, people can now buy headsets at a good price, content is coming… And it’s coming worldwide and for everyone, not just for some people!
A. V. - After the Covid pandemic, we have seen the digital world becoming stronger in all sectors, and VR is no exception to this rule. I’ve seen this happening in the VR events field, where I work with Louis from VRrOOm (which Antony just officially joined - see the announcement). We started working on solutions for virtual festivals in VRChat (see our article) before the pandemic, and it was kind of like an experimentation. But then the Covid arrived, and in a matter of weeks, everyone wanted a Virtual festival. AR and VR have accelerated a lot in the last two years.. Of course, there have also been sectors that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic: LBE or physical locations had a hard time, for instance, but I see them coming back as well now.
Is the metaverse the final answer to the XR distribution question?
A. V. - We are now deeply focused on the metaverse and virtual worlds trend. But it’s not really clear what it is, where it goes, and everyone has a different opinion on it. Of course, it will be important for all of us! The potential is huge: live music (like Jean-Michel Jarre), business meetings, gaming, personal networks… everything will happen in a world that connects us all in a shared mixed reality… that is “the metaverse”. But I don’t see something like the “Matrix”, where we spend our entire time in a completely virtual world, coming soon. VR will answer specific needs, things we can’t experience in real life - but real life is still here… and I think that now, after the pandemic, people want a breath of real life, attending physical events… but sooner or later, also VR ones will become popular.
A. V. - There are many virtual worlds selected this year at Venice VR Expanded. I’m also interested in the VR films selected, such as GOLIATH which won the Grand Prize (see his review). And it’s great to see the festival starting to also select VR games (like it has happened to THE LAST WORKER)! It’s very interesting to see the evolution of this kind of artistic content, which is always very fascinating to live in.
More about Antony : https://skarredghost.com/