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Virtual Reality Gets Closer to Market Reality May 7, 2016

Posted by seiferta in 2016 Trends.
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Virtual reality has had somewhat of a rocky road in its adoption. In the 80s and 90s, there was significant hype around virtual reality, and it was hoped to change everything [1]. Then the devices flopped in the market, with Nintendo’s Virtual Boy being a prime example [2]. Fast forward a couple of decades and we are now on the precipice of a potential revival of virtual reality.

According to Wikipedia, virtual reality is a “computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user’s physical presence and environment in a way that allows the user to interact with it” [3]. With the successful Kickstarter campaign for the Occulus Rift, we are seeing a wave of new consumer-grade VR devices enter the market. While these devices will mainly be used for entertainment—such as video games—soon they will be adopted by businesses. According to Gartner, due to the “innovation in immersive [head-mounted displays] (HMDs) entertainment in the consumer market,” businesses will also begin to adopt VR [4]. Gartner estimates sales of HMD devices to be around 25 million by 2019. Some areas of business where VR could be beneficial include healthcare, entertainment, education, real estate, marketing, and tourism. An example of entertainment is the partnership between Live Nation and NextVR, where they will offer live music performances for certain device owners. Users will be able to attend live music performances from the comfort of their own homes [5]. For tourism, customers could visit any place on earth—or beyond earth for that matter—without needing to pay travel fees, which can be cost prohibitive. For the time being, consumer-grade HDMs will probably be adopted most by the gaming community, because they are more likely to already own the hardware required by the devices. While mobile phones offer entry-level virtual reality through offers such as Google Cardboard, these are just the beginning, and often lack the computing power needed to have a more enjoyable VR experience. Prices for the more capable devices are sure to fall as the devices evolve and computing power continues to decline.

The growth of this trend can be seen by the wave of new products currently entering the market.  While the current price points are still relatively high, early adopters will begin exploring VR’s capabilities.

According to TechRepublic, 2016 will be pegged as a learning year.  More people will begin to experience virtual reality and look for new ways to benefit from the technology. More money will also be pumped into virtual reality development. Digi-Capital forecasts the VR market to be at $30 billion by 2020, and $150 billion if you include augmented reality [6].  These are exciting prospects for those who have been waiting over 20 years for virtual reality to become a reality.

Virtual reality could finally have its breakthrough in the years to come, and consumers and businesses should take note. Businesses offering VR experiences will need to continually provide new entertainment value ensuring customers do not get bored with repeat experiences and move away from the technology. Businesses should also start thinking about how VR can be incorporated into their operations. VR is already used for training purposes, such as flight training and driver training. What other forms of training could use VR? With any environment able to be rendered, VR could be used in almost any training scenario. Businesses offering experiences could also find huge benefits with VR, and should start looking for ways to provide consumers with exceptional experiences. VR could have profound breakthroughs in the medical field as well. For instance, researchers at Oxford University developed a way for people suffering from paranoia to confront their fears in a virtual environment.  After a half-hour session, “50 percent of the group said they were cured of severe paranoia” [7].  Such results are extremely promising. It will be interesting to see how virtual reality plays out in the years to come. Hopefully this time around it will be more accepted, and could potentially change everything.

 

[1] Carson, Erin. “Why virtual reality could finally mend it broken promise.” TechRepublic. http://www.techrepublic.com/article/why-virtual-reality-could-finally-mend-its-broken-promise/

[2] Wikipedia: Virtual boy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Boy

[3] Wikipedia: Virtual reality. http://www.digi-capital.com/news/2015/04/augmentedvirtual-reality-to-hit-150-billion-disrupting-mobile-by-2020/#.Vy4ryvkrKUm

[4] David W. Cearley, Brian Blau, Brian Burke, Mike J. Walker. “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016: The Device Mesh.” Gartner. February 26, 2016.

[5] Hall, Parker. “New Partnership Will Bring Hundreds of Live Concerts to Virtual Reality Headsets.” Digital Trends. May 4, 2016. http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/live-nation-nextvr-virtual-reality-concerts/

[6] “Augmented/Virtual Reality to hit $150 billion disruption mobile by 2020.” Digi-Capital. April 2015. http://www.digi-capital.com/news/2015/04/augmentedvirtual-reality-to-hit-150-billion-disrupting-mobile-by-2020/#.Vy4ryvkrKUm

[7] Furness, Dyllan. “Paranoia Patients Cured by Facing Their Fears in Virtual Reality.” Digital Trends. May 6, 2016. http://www.digitaltrends.com/virtual-reality/virtual-reality-paranoia-therapy/

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