Virtual reality is no longer a pipe dream for tech companies with futuristic visions. It’s here, and it’s beyond anything we’ve ever imagined.
Pioneers like Facebook, Samsung, Oculus, Sony, Valve, HTC and (evidently) Google are doing a great job at leading the way. Following them closely is an entire ecosystem of developers, designers, and dreamers looking at such a bright future that we all need to wear … headgear.
But while the mega-trends of the VR industry are promising, it’s worthy to mention that VR has a long way to go. For example, Oculus has not only become affordable but has also designed high-quality devices in such a way that motion sickness is no longer a technical challenge.
Despite the fact that there’s room for improvement – especially regarding haptic feedback and retina displays – the first generation of these VR systems as finished products are beyond imagination.
Unlike in personal computing, where mobile took some decades before it followed the desktop, both tethered VR (to desktop computers or gaming consoles) and mobile VR are developing simultaneously and at a similar pace.
What’s more, Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR – both consumer-directed products – have arrived even before their significantly more powerful and expensive siblings. In terms of mainstream adoption, these accessible mobile VR systems have already reached more than 5 million users.
Since they run on mobile, these technologies are bound to have fewer uses than their console or PC counterparts. But even so, it’s more than justifiable to pay $100 for a mobile VR system that will allow 360-degree video and casual gaming (Cardboard costs even less).
On the other hand, desktop VR is in an entirely different price range – PlayStation VR is $400, the Rift $600, and the Vive is $800 – without counting the hardware costs.
And even though Cardboard’s offering represents a humble beginning, technology-wise, Google has already proved that it’s committed to mass adoption mobile VR by creating a dedicated VR division earlier this year.
When it comes to content, VR is far from being a saturated commodity, which means competition is still hot. It’s not just about building a great product but also about establishing new brands and IPs.
But VR content doesn’t refer only to games or entertainment, as it is usually mistakenly believed. What VR does to gaming and storytelling is that it makes them more compelling and immersive, an effect that could also be applied to design, education, healthcare, communication and more.
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