VR: A 2016 Retrospective

I think it is safe to say that 2016 was a bit of a rocky year for everyone. I also think it was without a doubt a great year for technological progress. We had SpaceX / Blue Origin with reusable rockets, IoT innovation running rampant, and most importantly (at least in our eyes) massive advancements in the realm of Virtual, Augmented, & Mixed reality . While I’d love to say I’m a Rocket Scientist or an IoT wiz, I’m someone who is deeply involved in the VR universe, and I’m here to share with you my thoughts on some of the best and most exciting evolutions in VR this year.

For all intents and purposes, 2016 was the very first year of VR. While we were all secretly hoping that the sales numbers on headsets would blow everyone out of the water, for the most part it seems like the headset sales matched industry forecasts (with the exception of PSVR). Surprisingly, there’s been a very mild approach to promotional campaigns surrounding VR. A key example lying in Sony’s decision to more heavily promote the PS4 Pro over the PSVR. I personally expected more of the big guns to come out in the second half of the year but was left wanting.

Another huge development in 2016 is all three tethered headsets having reliable hand controllers that developers and designers can create around. This year we saw these three platforms enter the fray with the introduction of the HTC Vive in April, the PlayStation VR in October, and most recently with the Oculus Touch last weeks on December 6th.

Even if it is just one product, or game, or experience, people need “the itch” to truly be enticed into making the dive into this brand new entertainment medium…

One of the most exciting shifts we’re seeing in VR is actually tied to the hardware space. Since the introduction of the original Oculus Rift the cost of hardware required to run these high-end VR platforms has already gone down. What originally required a +$1000 computer setup can be matched with a $700 setup now a mere handful of months later. The heavy involvement of major hardware companies like NVIDIA, Qualcomm, AMD, and GoPro has largely contributed to a transition into producing hardware that is both affordable and accessible to the general public. This is in preparation for the inevitable demand for high quality, low cost VR products.

All in all, one of the key components to the success of VR is software companies like LiveLike delivering consumers killer content at a reliable pace. People need a steadfast reason to come back to VR again and again. Even if it is just one product, or game, or experience, people need “the itch” to truly be enticed into making the dive into this brand new entertainment medium. Fortunately, we’re not the only ones thinking this right now…

All things considered, 2016 was a huge “first” year for VR (and AR respectively), but it did leave us holistically wanting more. Realistically most VR companies (LiveLike included) are forecasted to be on a steady incline as the general populace becomes more adept and comfortable with this entirely new entertainment paradigm. The best comparison that can be made is to the explosion of mobile popularity around 2006. When the entire industry was redefined and a design movement began. I believe I’m currently speaking for all of us in the VR space in saying we’re on the cusp of another amazing period of technological innovation. One that has far-reaching implications even outside the realm of pure entertainment. And I for one, could not be more excited to be on the bleeding edge of it.

Keep an eye out for next month’s edition as we look into 2017 and forecast what industry defining moments we look forward to…

This was also posted on our website here.