VR Visionaries #6: Frank Soqui, GM, Virtual Reality and Gaming Group at Intel

Fresh from Intel’s awe-inspiring keynote slot at VRX Europe, Frank Soqui, General Manager of the Virtual Reality and Gaming Group at Intel, talks to VR Intelligence about the company’s ongoing drive for innovation in VR.

To meet Intel and hundreds more companies pioneering VR, check out the VRX 2017 conference & expo on December 7-8 in San Francisco - head here for more information

How does Intel slot into today's VR landscape?

Intel provides the platform capabilities that deliver the most immersive VR experiences. We deliver that through our CPU (cores, threads and frequency), graphics, WiGig wireless transmission standard, Thunderbolt USB-C for lightning-fast data transfer, Optane solid state drive (SSD), and Realsense sensing technologies allowing full 6 degrees of freedom (6DOF). We also work with our PC Other Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) on VR applications and partners to help further increase the value that our platform provides.

To what extent is the industry overcoming barriers to widespread adoption for VR?

Early in VR adoption there has been tremendous amount of focus on the best experience possible – improving the immersive experience. We’ve already come quite some way with the use of Intel Core i5/i7 to discrete graphics to immersive and compelling VR applications.

Bringing the experience to mainstream price points that can scale without creating a poor experience is what the industry is driving for today. Use of integrated graphics and lower cost VR headsets, as well as applications that scale to mainstream without dropping frames or creating latency that can cause people to fill dizzy are all achievable targets that will help reduce those barriers.

Traditionally Intel have worked as content enablers, what recent partnerships are you excited by?

When we think about content, software applications are a big focus for us. Intel has worked with software developers for decades, and over the past few years we have partnered deeply with leading game developers, publishers, and engine providers. We support them with hardware, innovation projects, engineering support, promotional programmes – you name it.

VR had created a lot of excitement with the traditional game ISVs as well as with thousands of indie developers. While the consumer VR industry is still in its early days, we’re excited to work with all of them as they pave the way to deliver amazing VR experiences. We collaborated with several gaming developers at GDC 2017 – companies like Epic Games (Robo Recall, Unreal Engine), Red Storm Entertainment (Star Trek: Bridge Crew), Vertigo Games (Arizona Sunshine), Fatshark (Warhammer: Vermintide), and Insomniac Games (The Unspoken), to name a few.

But it’s not just games. We are working with hundreds of developers and content providers across other industries, like InContext who are using VR in Business-to-Business (B2B) retail planning, and WorldViz who offer customized business training and precision motion tracking, among other things.

We work with others in automotive, medical, education, tourism and cinema – each of which brings new ideas and solutions that potentially reshape their industry. We’re excited to be working with each one. If you want to find out more you can check out our website: https://iq.intel.com/series/virtual-reality/

Will VR, AR and MR remain as distinct entities or do you see a future where one dominates?

That’s not easy to answer as one size does not fit all. I believe that the ability to mix the real world with virtual environments is where VR, AR and MR are all heading. To what degree depends upon what you are trying to experience. 

What are the most impressive implementations of VR that you have seen to date? 

The most impressive thing I’ve seen lately is the increase in levels of interactivity within the game and with other players. The ability to share – whether that’s voice or streaming, and be social or collaborative within those experiences, as well as the ability to mix real world with virtual environments, haptics for physical feedback… all of these are impressive individually. The VR implementations that combine these is what becomes amazing. 

Do you think VR will become a core part of the marketing mix? 

Marketing has always been about messaging and selling experiences, and VR is fundamentally an experience. As a core part of a marketing mix, I would argue that we are already there today in terms of capability. The question then becomes one of how you use VR, rather than if you can.

To meet Intel and hundreds more companies pioneering VR, check out the VRX 2017 conference & expo on December 7-8 in San Francisco - head here for more information