‘Tis the season for pan-corporate association groups. A Google DeepMind founder spoke earlier this week about the company’s collaboration with technology giants in the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society. Now, Google has joined forces with HTC, Oculus, Samsung, Sony and Acer to create a big group for another tech zeitgeist: virtual reality.

The Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA) looks to be an effort to solidify the rapidly developing – but still very fragmented – virtual-reality industry. The group’s website claims it wants to “promote the worldwide growth and development of the VR industry”. While there isn’t much in the way of specifics, the suggestion is that the GVRA will focus on education, collaborating on technical issues, and codifying some kind of guidelines for best practices.

“While seeking to educate consumers, governments, and industry about VR’s potential, the association wants to get ahead of challenges with developing and deploying the technology responsibly,” the website reads. “That’s why we feel it’s important to bring together international experts across industry to work collaboratively on global education, potential technical challenges, and promoting best practices in the field.”

One thing on the mind of VR users will be the creation of unified standards. Currently, sensors, headsets and games that work with one company’s setup don’t work for another company’s setup. Could the GVRA be the first step to a PC-like industry, where a rig can be built from a number of different parts?

However, the notable lack of Valve from the association will fuel doubts over its ability to deliver this. While the company’s Vive partner HTC is present, Valve is also the creator of the SteamVR platform, and its absence suggests we shouldn’t expect a fully unified set of standards to emerge from the group.

It’s more likely that the group will be a hub for strategy towards the adoption of VR, and a unified front to tackle ethical questions that will inevitably emerge as VR becomes more widespread.

“The goal of the Global Virtual Reality Association will promote responsible development and adoption of VR globally,” the group explains in a press release. “Association’s members will develop and share best practices, conduct research, and bring the international VR community together as the technology progresses. The group will also serve a resource for consumers, policymakers, and industry interested in VR.”



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