The Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality (VR, AR, MR) industry has been growing rapidly with the total revenue projected to reach over $162B in 2020, but reality technologies still have some significant hurdles to overcome. With the number of active mobile VR users globally forecast to reach over 170 million by 2018, it is pertinent for developers to gain the upper hand when dealing with the barriers for Mixed, Virtual, and Augmented Reality.
With the more significant players like Samsung, Google, HTC, and Microsoft creating hardware that is cheaper and are flooding the market, reality devices have become more affordable and accessible and less of a luxury.
However, before consumer and enterprise users can become wholly convinced to spend money of the different kinds of Virtual Realities, developers must make them more compelling — and doing so means conquering these five major hurdles that are still plaguing the industry today.
1. Content is still the “KING.”
If someone is going to be spending on a VR/AR/MR headset, they will certainly want a variety of quality content to be available. Developers need to create content that consumers will use because they find it interesting, exciting, and depending on the industry — beneficial. Until more promising and appealing content is available in the education, entertainment, automobile, healthcare, and other industries, the AR/VR/MR market cannot take off. The cost of creating content for VR does not come cheap. Take these numbers from ThinkMobiles into consideration for the cost of developing:
- The simplest game for VR/AR — up to $8000
- An online shop in VR or AR — up to $25000
- A horror game — up to $80000
- 3Ds Max in VR — up to $200000
- Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) — from $100000
Moreover, content providers need quality platforms that support and deliver VR content. These platforms, which bring VR to life, should support the creation and delivery of content as well as reach the intended audience — and target new user groups. Platforms need to not only have new features, but functionality to keep users interested and immersed as well. Without quality content providing an immersive experience and excellent platforms that can deliver them, VR will die a slow death like the 3D Televisions of the past.
2. Reality will NOT work without Better User Experience
The future of VR and the primary driver will most likely be mobile devices, especially since 77% of Americans now own smartphones — with 92% of ownership being that of 18- to 29-year-olds. VR developers need to consider these astonishing numbers when creating hardware and software so they can implement the use of smartphones for VR technology.
The number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to pass the 5 billion mark by 2019.
Not everyone can use VR technology mainly because of connectivity issues. For one, broadband that’s able to transfer a large volume of data that is necessary. Faster performance of wireless networks is necessary for full adoption. Unless super speedy and stable next-gen networks, like 5G, are in place, having a slow connection will significantly affect the user experience.
3. Fragmentation in Standards/Formats and Content
A lot of fragmentation, mostly because different platforms have their formats and specifications, exists in the VR marketplace. Headsets (one of the leading components of experiencing VR), for example, are made by different manufacturers and have features that run on specific platforms instead of being able to run on multiple platforms.
Solving industry fragmentation is a must in both the consumer and developer side so that VR can be widely adopted. It is pertinent that hardware developers see to it that the device works with different formats of content.
Consumers will flock to usage only when they know that the hardware/software combination is not tied tightly to specific OEMs.
4. Cost vs. Quality
The key to mass adoption is making reality devices, like headsets and motion controllers, to be more affordable for the cost-conscious consumer who is also looking for bang for the buck. VR developers who wanted to get in on the hype led to many low-cost devices but lousy user experiences that don’t keep the user’s interest and attention. Larger players are commoditizing devices in the assumption so that they can gain market share. Devices should be affordable for mainstream consumers, not just for enterprise users.
Below are just some of the hefty price tags on some of the best VR headsets:
- Oculus Rift — $399 (down from original price of $599)
- Windows MR headsets — $400
- Playstation VR headset — $400
- HTC Vive — $599 (down from the original price of $799)
A study found that 60% of Internet users want to spend between $200 and $400 for VR.
5. Fast and High-Speed Connectivity
According to the Pew Research Center, about nine-in-ten American adults use the internet, and an estimated 3/4 of American adults have broadband internet service at home. However, there are very many countries where Internet usage is much lower.
Moreover, Internet service is more expensive in developing countries, and they may not have the same infrastructure as the US to provide better connectivity due to which VR adoption is suffering in other parts of the world.
Although these five core issues still exist — the market is maturing, and brands are trying to find ways and means to make use of the technology for better experiences. This is especially true in the retail industry, where VR is being used to transport consumers to simulated worlds or for “virtually” try on clothing and shoes.
Some Cool New Use Cases
Consumer Driven Innovation
- Live Events — Users can get transported to concerts, sporting events, museums and the likes.
- Gaming — Immersive gaming experiences include those played on PCs, consoles, and mobile and those that transport gamers to soccer stadiums or fighting robots in a futuristic arena
- Movies — VR headsets for movie experiences where viewers are in charge of what they see and even how the story unfolds
- Recording Videos — VR cameras that allow users to record their VR home movies
Enterprise Driven Innovation and Adoption
- Connected remote workers — for monitoring workers without being present in the same location.
- Warehouse and Logistics — Smart glasses that guide workers to take shorter efficient routes.
- Manufacturing — for complex assembly and reducing error rates in the manufacturing process.
- Education — Training individuals for challenging jobs, like for firefighters or Air Force Pilots, or for use in the classroom.
- Healthcare — Computer generated anatomy helps surgeons determine ways to locate tumors, practice surgical procedures.
- Tourism — To transport consumers to a virtual location as a marketing tool.
Here’s our take on how Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities will Unfold…
Mixed, Virtual, Augmented Realities are still in their early stages. In addition to the gaming industry, these realities are believed to be the future for many other verticals, particularly with use cases in healthcare, education, and marketing.
These realities must overcome the five major obstacles that are creating a delay in VR becoming adopted widely. When VR reaches the point where more useful content is available, user experiences can be improved, fragmentation will be minimized or no longer exists, connectivity around the world improves, and of course, costs drop, then it will undoubtedly become mainstream much faster.
The VR industry is maturing slowly, but it is certain that these Realities are not merely a passing trend as they continue to make headlines. With different companies still improving their VR gear and software, prices of reality gear dropping, and more substantial platforms are slowly getting more adoption; we see VR as playing a more prominent role in our lives by 2020–2025.
Do you have any additional hurdles that are affecting VR from going Mainstream in 2018?
This post was written by Asokan Ashok, the CEO of UnfoldLabs. Ashok is an expert in driving customer insights into thriving businesses and commercializing products for scale. As a leading strategist in the technology industry, he is great at recommending strategies to address technology & market trends. Highly analytical and an industry visionary, Ashok is a sought after global high-tech industry thought leader and trusted strategic advisor by companies.
Entrepreneur. Inventor. Product Ideation. Strategist. Visionary. Evangelist. Architect.
For any comments or discussions, please feel free to reach out to Ashok or UnfoldLabs at “marketing-at-unfoldlabs-dot-com”.