What’s Real and What’s Hype in VR & AR?

In recent years, it’s been difficult to avoid the hype around virtual and augmented reality — hotly anticipated to transform the way we live, play, communicate and work.

In both consumer and enterprise markets, analysts have long predicted that mass adoption would take time to reach, with various technological, societal and economical barriers to overcome. But while experts remain pragmatically optimistic, media and consumer expectations can often give mixed messages and warped ideas of what’s real, what’s possible and what time frames it might take to achieve.

Leading the charge to break down those barriers are the tech giants. Over the past 12 months alone, headset releases such as Google’s Daydream and HTC’s Focus, provide mobile wireless headsets to make the technology both a more affordable and less cumbersome experience; two major factors deemed to be holding the industry back.

But despite this, overall sales of headsets have been lower than what many had optimistically hoped, while the pull-back from VR of early pioneer, CCP Games, sent tremors through an industry still waiting for a smash hit title.

So what’s the real state of the industry and which are the major barriers left to overcome? A webinar next Thursday July 19, in association with VRX 2018, should help to provide some clarity — gathering senior execs from both Google and HTC, alongside XR market research lead at SuperData Research, to provide insight on the latest figures and how those at the core of the industry are approaching the challenges and opportunities ahead.

A major talking point will no doubt be in how to fill the gaps that hold VR and AR back from being more accessible. Headset releases, like those above, have brought down the price point and dropped the requirement of a high-powered PC connection, but there are still major challenges to overcome. Improvements in the tech are needed, while the lack of a broad range of quality content remains; not to mention, that most consumers are yet to enjoy a premium VR or AR experience, making it a difficult one to sell.

That said, investments and innovations are being made. Product development in motion tracking and eye tracking are making big improvements in the overall immersive experience, while open platform releases of ARKit and ARCore, followed by that of Niantic (creators of Pokemon Go), are a boon to 3rd party AR content developers. Meanwhile, the rise of location-based VR experiences and arcades offers consumers the chance to trial, without having to commit to buying a headset.

In enterprise particularly, the impact is being felt across retail, aerospace, automotive, architecture, manufacturing, healthcare — in fact, most industries — where both VR and AR is making its way into training programmes, product design, sales and marketing campaigns and beyond, for corporations around the world. Yet, there are still many in industry who are oblivious to the benefits and unable to justify the speculative ROI.

With ongoing innovations and shifting expectations, seeing beyond the hype remains paramount. While projections are still buoyant and the future holds great promise, progress will come in understanding where the real opportunities lie in finding solutions to the major factors holding immersive tech back from its potential.

To delve deeper into the core of the industry and the major issues, register for the VRX webinar on July 19 — featuring Steven Kan, Global Head of VR & AR Strategy, Google; Vinay Narayan, Exec Director, VR, HTC Vive; and Stephanie Llamas, Head of XR, SuperData. Moderated by Amy Peck, CEO, Endeavor VR.