Agree that VR is binary /exclusionary and that the challenge lies in how to “convince consumers that buying a VR rig is a sensible way to spend money”. Consumers — especially those who are not gamers — need a proper and positive introduction to VR. This is currently being obstructed by many factors:(a) 2-d, flat panoramas (360 videos, for instance) are being presented as VR; in my arrogant opinion, true VR requires depth sensing as you would see in real life, which in turn requires that the content is produced by stereo cameras, (b) these consumers do not have a good, easy (low risk, commitment-free) way to experience VR without getting into VR games, which defeats the purpose. (c ) cost remains a consideration — Google introduced Cardboard as a low cost VR viewer but it requires a smartphone and the canned content has not been particularly meaningful in the “must have” sense (d) even in many households who can afford a VR device, there is a concern about its imminent obsolescence —take recent announcements ts about Oculus Go or Lenovo Mirage Solo; even before the electronic ink was dry, expert bloggers were shouting about how it would be best to wait until better, next-generation of products arrived.
This then is the catch-22 of the VR situation: Consumers need to experience the magical ethos of immersive VR and if they wait for perfect devices, then the device and platform companies are more likely to focus on VR games which is their tiny but faithful (revenue generating) segment — and this will further alienate the non-gaming public who will give up and declare that VR is just for gamers.
In our tiny new startup -HapiVR — this is the problem that we are addressing. (This is not a plug and we are long ways from having anything to sell.) We have spent many months not just in building products/processes but also in studying in depth the history of introducing the new new to consumers over the decades — starting in 1950’s from the Brownie cameras and Washing machines to having printers and microwaves as staple household appliances. Many important and useful lessons there, not limited to VR intro.
If you are still with me, please bear my soapbox speech for another few seconds: It depends on your philosophy, what you think the role of technology should be; in our team, we think that tech solutions should solve or at least address some of the pressing issues facing everyday folks in our global society. VR packs an immense promise in its premise and hence we must bring it to the consumer segment at large and on a worldwide basis; End of soapbox and hope that didn’t come across as preachy or pompous.
Stay tuned (and wish us well) ;
-Atul at HapiVR dot com