Last year was a big year for virtual reality. In 2016 several headsets have been introduced and announced. Now you can order your own VR headset for less than $1000 online.
You can easily buy VR headsets and try the new dimension on your own in your living room. Many companies are putting a lot of development efforts into virtual reality and already a few were able to secure their market share. Today you can choose between
From Entertainment to Real-World Use Cases
Today, virtual reality is used by the early adopters and early majority mainly for experiencing VR games and 360° videos. The Google Cardboard costs less than a dollar in production. Samsung also did a great step in bringing VR to the mass markets by shipping a Samsung Gear VR for free for everyone who purchased a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge in early 2016. Both, the Google Cardboard and the Gear VR are two solid ways to experience VR for less than $100. The use cases of these low-cost VR headsets is, of course, limited. It is sufficient to watch 360° videos or experiencing mediocre Android games but they don’t offer the “reality” which is contained in the world “virtual reality”.
The mass-market launches of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and the PlayStation VR are making virtual reality gaming possible. Nevertheless, they are still an expensive investment while not offering the best quality you would wish for. The next months and years will introduce more and more advanced VR headsets and I am 100% certain that we will have a real virtual reality experience very soon.
VR Use Cases
Today, the use cases of virtual reality are still confined to videos and gaming. I think that virtual reality entertainment will only be a small use case. Non-obvious applications of VR will be the most exciting ones. If we can use virtual reality to improve our daily lives it has a much higher chance to be adopted faster by the majority of people. VR entertainment will be a smaller fraction as VR gaming is (for most people) not a daily or weekly habit. Everyone will want to try VR gaming once but will they use it regularly?
The best use cases will be those who make our daily lives less complicated. If VR focusses on solving real pain points of the consumers it will attack a much larger market. If you are trying to come up with an amazing VR use case think about it like this: Will I use it every day? Every week? Is it solving a real pain point? Is the use case not possible in a sufficient way on a phone or laptop screen?
Virtual reality goes beyond of entertainment. I would love to see a VR university, VR news outlet, or a VR travel agency. What about making a few business meetings unnecessary thanks to VR?
VR Technology is still too Early for the real Masses
Companies will need to come up with real-world use cases which really solve pain points of different target groups. The resolution of current VR headsets still does not feel “real”. And the VR experience is still restricted by a cable, controllers, and even very expensive gaming PCs. VR has an amazing future. I am very excited to see great product introductions in augmented- and virtual reality in 2017!