Here’s why you’re overlooking how much VR actually matters

Why we’re reaching the tipping point of startups in the virtual space (and why not enough people are paying attention)

Jory MacKay
Sep 22, 2016 · 8 min read
  1. I’ve heard of it but don’t understand it.
  2. I understand it, but I don’t see how it’s useful.
  3. I see how it could be fun for rich people, but not me.
  4. I use it, but it’s just a toy.
  5. It’s becoming more useful for me.
  6. I use it all the time.
  7. I could not imagine life without it.
  8. Seriously, people lived without it?

So just where are the opportunities?

In the past year, virtual reality headsets finally hit the general public and expectations are that adoption will be widespread. But just where will the greatest opportunities lie? Unlike other platforms and mediums that lend themselves specifically to certain apps, content, or uses, VR is a truly revolutionary platform.

Tools for creating content

“Reality is shaped by the forces that destroy it.” wrote author D. Harlan Wilson. Yet in the case of virtual reality it might be better if we say that reality is shaped by the forces that create it.

  • 3D volumetric scanning: Where you have more perspective
  • Photogrammetry: Taking high resolution 2D pictures around a big object like a building or castle and with algorithms put it together in VR.


In his post 5 Ways that Travel Will be Disrupted by VR, Adam breaks down how despite critics objections, there are huge opportunities for VR and tourism to work together.

  • There will be a level between ‘In person’ and ‘Skype’ meetings.
  • Distance and geography won’t be responsible for you getting to know someone
  • Definition of travel will change from the physical to the digital
  • It will lower the barrier for language immersion


If e-commerce pulled the trigger on traditional shopping, VR is potentially the nail in the coffin at the funeral.


It won’t just be big opportunities

What’s most interesting about such a huge platform shift like VR is its potential to be a part of everything. It’s not just about the big experience.

And originality will ultimately win

While so many experiences and virtual reality startups to date have focused on fitting existing content or ideas into a virtual space, it will be those who create original content, designed for virtual reality, that will stand out.

But what’s getting in the way?

Of course, tackling any new tech early on means not only dealing with a number of issues, but discovering new ones all the time. There’s not always an advantage by being a first mover in a space.

How do you pay?

The last thing any VR creator wants is to recreate the same ad-focused business models of the internet in a virtual environment.

Users need a good reason to invest in hardware

For people to buy headsets, they need a pretty damn good reason. And currently, VR hardware is at the same stage as the smart phone around the time the iPhone came out. People will buy it not just for functionality, but for access to content.

It’s expensive

Like any new technology, it’s going to be capital-intensive to build early on before the tools are available and the platform is widely adopted. However, there are people willing to pay for content and investors looking to get in the space. So if you can bring your idea to life, people will be interested.

Ready to move your business into the virtual world?

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Jory MacKay

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Award-winning freelance writer and editor. Lover of film. Drinker of coffee. Say 👋

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +469K people. Follow to join our community.