Lucas Rizzotto’s new mixed-reality app Pillow recently launched on Quest VR. Rizzotto’s previous award-winning VR experience, Where Thoughts Go, is about secrets. It launched to raves at Tribeca in 2018, and was one of the first non-game experiences on the Quest. It is a deeply affecting personal experience. It seems silly to say it, but Pillow’s big innovation, that no one has previously thought of, is a VR experience created for use lying down. On a bed. It is so simple and obvious everyone’s going to do it now.
Pillow comes packaged with 4 unique experiences at launch. “Sky Fishing,” which allows you to fish user voice messages from your ceiling in themed ponds that change every day. “Bedtime Stories” allows users to craft adventure stories they can play in. “Stargazing”, which transforms your ceiling into an interactive night sky, allowing you to explore the stars, grab constellations to learn about them. “Meditations” is a rhythm-based interactive breath-tracking experience that lets users transform their reality as they create worlds with their breath. More are planned for next year.
Rizzotto and his co-founder Chris Smoak both previewed a prototype of Pillow at SXSW in March, where it was impossible to make a reservation to lay in one of the beds they’d placed in the Immersive Exhibition. At the time, the Pillow team was just getting started with the development of the “Stargazing” experience. And now last week, just six months after South-by, Pillow was quietly launched in the Quest store, where it costs ten dollars. “It’s been a crazy process shipping this. We’ve done so much in such a short span of time,” Rizzotto told me in an interview this morning. “Now the real work begins.”
All of Pillow’s innovative experiences can be played individually, or with Pillow’s multiplayer mode, which connects two players vertically. Because Pillow is used lying down, in the multiplayer mode users can lay side by side or play across from each other as they use any of the experiences. “This makes Pillow not only a great relaxation app,” said Rizzotto, “but also an amazing option for long-distance relationships. Simple, fun, and relaxing.”
Over the next several months, Pillow will be very focused on driving retention on the first four experiences to “learn what we should double down on.” Chris Smoak, Pillow’s CTO, continued. “We’re really interested to see what drives people to come back every day to create some sort of before-bed ritual. Retention has been a bit of an unsolved problem in the XR industry and it’s something that we hope to tackle.”
In the coming year, Rizzotto hopes to expand the experiences Pillow offers. “We have too many ideas, and so does our community. We’re picking what we’re doing right now, and you bet it’s going to be exciting.”
Schopenhauer famously said, “genius hits a target no one can see.” And that’s what Rizzotto has done here. It’s just a completely different way of thinking about XR. It’s giving XR a different part of your brain that hasn’t really been tried. In this way, Pillow resembles Rizzotto’s Where Thoughts Go. Each experience puts us in an intimate and vulnerable place, where we can think, and dream, safely.
Charlie Fink is the author of the AR-enabled books “Metaverse,” (2017) and “Convergence” (2019). In the early 90s, Fink was EVP & COO of VR pioneer Virtual World Entertainment. He teaches at Chapman University in Orange, CA.