From the first motion picture to the latest IMAX blockbuster, the entertainment industry is constantly evolving the user experience, seeking the next best thing with bigger screens, better sound, a clearer picture and now the emergence of quality virtual reality. Significant advancements in technology, not to mention the funding raised, has created the current landscape of virtual reality primed to have a very big year in 2016. The years following will equate to a boom in virtual reality technology. In fact, it’s project that the virtual reality will make up $30 billion of the $150 billion augmented and virtual reality industry, with more than 38 million units worldwide by 2020.
The Bang Before the Boom
One of the greatest rock bands once said that money talks. If that’s true, then virtual reality is practically yelling. 2014 was a record year for securing virtual reality funding; a total of $3 billion was raised in the VR industry, not counting internal investments from companies like Google, Microsoft, Samsung, or Sony. In the same year, social media giant Facebook, bought Oculus Rift for a cool $2 billion, which will only perpetuate both development and demand.
Cusp of the Boom
Since 2014, key players like Google and Samsung have entered the field of virtual reality, releasing affordable, smartphone-based VR headsets. VR posterchild Oculus is on track for a consumer release early 2016, along with Sony’s Morpheus. We’ve already seen a division in the demand of expensive and affordable VR systems. This division from ultra-affordable headsets to the elite VR systems will make VR more accessible to a wider range of users. This will not only drive revenue for device makers, but create a similar economy to today’s mobile app market.
With the technology in place, now is the time that interactive game developers and 3D content creators will emerge in high demand. As more VR headsets enter the market and technology improves, consumer acceptance will continue to grow, driving content creation because no one wants to play the same three games. A need for VR content platforms across all operating systems will develop. Once such system, NOON VR, launched providing an entire VR ecosystem from headset to content, including user-generated content shared across the platform. Similar platforms will develop, providing immersive content to users across devices.
Pushing Past the Boom
Up until now, virtual reality has yet to make the same emergence into other industries as it has with entertainment and gaming, perhaps it’s due to a lack of viable technology. As the VR industry continues to grow and the technology supporting it, we will see VR adoption across a wide range of industries, including tourism, training for law enforcement, automotive and healthcare.
More companies will gain a better grasp of how customers experience their products, much like the Ford Motor Company, who uses virtual reality in its labs to help get a better sense of how customers experience their cars or transport museum visitors to the Bronze Age like the British Museum. Some holiday season, in the not too distant future, boxes of Mattel- or LeapFrog-branded VR headsets will fill the shelves of retail stores, as technology becomes more affordable. These new uses for virtual reality will instill a longevity to the virtual reality industry and spawn additional innovations and inventions.