Microsoft released the developer version of its mixed reality headset, known as HoloLens, last year at a price point of $3,000. While that might prove a bit pricey for across-the-board consumer adoption, it’s right in the affordable zone for high-end consumers and commercial enterprise.
“The HoloLens is compelling, but what’s really compelling is that it’s Microsoft,” Chadwick Turner, chief strategy officer of mixed reality content studio MANDT VR. “The back end and the front end are both based on Windows 10.”
Where is the industry heading?
With all of these amazing technological strides, it can be easy to lose track of the business end of the industry. Tipatat Chennavasin, co-founder of The Venture Reality Fund, is working to finance mixed reality studios so that when these platforms are ready for widespread adoption there is already a myriad of content to explore. “A lot of people are asking what the driver of VR or AR adoption will be,” Chennavasin said. “Well, what was the driver of traditional PC adoption? It wasn’t the internet or watching videos, that didn’t exist at first. It was desktop publishing. Microsoft Office; Powerpoint, Word, and Excel. It was this idea of being productive, and it revolutionized communication.”
Chennavasin shares that expectation for mixed reality devices, which is why he launched The VR Fund along with his partners.
“We’re still at the very beginning, but there are really strong indications that this is a healthy market, a healthy ecosystem,” he said. “[Mixed reality studio] Alchemy Labs, for example, made $3 million in less than a year in software revenue from VR. That shows me there is really something here.”
As the industry evolves and the technology improves, Chennavasin said he wouldn’t be surprised if mixed reality crossed over with new emerging technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence or with internet of things applications, creating a unified, high-tech ecosystem of intelligent products. While that day might be some distance away yet, the emergence of mixed reality devices as a usable technology has the future on everyone’s minds.
“Right now [we’re in] a stage of experimentation, and there’s definitely something here,” Chennavasin said. “This is not just playing video games. People are experiencing that, absorbing what’s out there, and building on it. We’ll get to those killer experiences and help drive mainstream adoption very quickly.”
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