With Tom’s article on VR today, I thought I would share a stat from a VR-focused study we did. It is no secret VR is early and we shouldn’t expect the mainstream to have experienced it yet. I still wanted to gauge what the current market sentiment is as we seek to understand the market today.
When we look at current sentiment, nearly half of respondents have either no interest or have not heard of virtual reality, while just over half have some interest or is very interested. We live in an increasingly technologically savvy world so it is not surprising there is interest in the idea of a new way to experience content and media. Most consumers, 76% of them, have yet to experience a true VR solution.
Within the past year, VR solutions had gotten good enough that those who experienced it could see its potential. I emphasize that is the stage of the market we are in and the job I have to do analysis of. Right now, we are focusing on its potential. It is unhelpful to judge the current crop of products as they will change dramatically over the next 5 years. What is helpful is to spend time thinking about the potential of what we have experience of so far.
I have personally experienced every major VR/AR solution on the market or will be in the next year. I’m optimistic others who experience these solutions over the next year will be able to see the potential. Currently in my house, we are vetting the full Gear VR and Oculus experience. Both Samsung and Oculus continue to add new content in the way of games, videos, pictures, movies, and more, which keeps the experience fresh. My girls love to show their friends a video where divers take you scuba diving in many exotic locations. You explore the ocean floor, coral reefs, and learn about different underwater species in each location. They also show their friends a tour of Disney World that takes you on roller coasters and shows many highlights of the parks.
What I’ve enjoyed the most is having friends or family over who I help to experience VR for the first time and to get their feedback and reactions. Every single person was blown away by how immersive it was and they came up with many use cases from travel, education, entertainment and more they thought were interesting.
Imagine you had a 360-degree capture camera and used it for family events, kids soccer games, etc. You would be able to capture moments and re-live them on more than just a flat screen. But the one experience which has still stood out to me today was the Sony Morpheus. Gaming will clearly play a role in this first wave of adoption. If you play and love video games, as I do, VR is going to change your life. Sony has an installed base of over 36 million PS 4 consoles, all of which can support their VR solution. I expect Sony to be the winner of this first phase.
Ultimately however, the units need to be untethered. Solutions which require cables will not stand the test of time and ones that either use a phone or, more likely, have the technology built right into the headset like the Microsoft Hololens, will ultimately win the day. I believe in the cordless solutions since, after experiencing them, it becomes clear you need freedom to move around. Especially with those that will blend both virtual and augmented reality together.
There is still an odd hostility around VR. I experience it on Twitter whenever I show pictures of my kids enjoying their experience with it. As to be expected, certain demographics do not like change. New things are approached with skepticism. Fortunately, the demographics that will drive this technology forward, the younger generation, have no such reservation.
Now, no one believes we will all walk around with our heads in VR/AR headsets all day. But they will be a tool similar to how our PCs, TVs, smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches are tools today. Our modern technological tools are good for work, play, and education and VR/AR will fit nicely into the mix.