You will be using mobile VR and AR in two years—even if you don’t believe it

05Oct16

By Steven Max Patterson

You will be using mobile VR and AR in two years—even if you don’t believe it

Mobile VR is set to explode when Google releases Daydream. In a few years, billions will use VR like they use GPS navigation, without a second thought.

Casual mobile virtual reality (VR) will eat the world when Google announces its Daydream VR platform with its six hardware partners in October. Within two years, millions of consumers will become accustomed to using augmented reality (AR) and VR, casually, like they use GPS and voice to text now because there will be a VR app for that—whatever that is. Extending VR into the mobile app ecosystem will produce VR use cases that haven’t dawned on the average consumer.

Mobile VR will emerge and absorb hours of people’s time like casual games have at little or no additional cost to them. Casual games are free or cost just a few dollars, with advertising and in-app purchases driving revenue. Console VR systems from Oculus, HTC and soon Sony will be different. The even more realistic experience produced by more powerful CPUs, GPUs and higher-performance displays will convince enthusiasts seeking the ultimate VR experience to spend hundreds of dollars, and even a thousand dollars, for hardware and $50 to $100 per game—like game consoles have.

The revenue models of mobile VR and console VR will track the mobile game and console game market, which according to market researcher New Zoo will reach $36.9 billion and $29 billion, respectively, this year. These are very big and very different businesses.

Gaming and entertainment have taken the lead

The general public’s opinion of VR has been skewed by early gaming and entertainment demos. This is not a criticism, but a statement of fact. All the VR/AR makers have poured millions of dollars and millions of man-hours into reaching consumers to demonstrate Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Microsoft Hololens, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.

The amazement the first-time a user has the feeling presence in a VR experience confirms that this was the strategy. My first experience of VR presence was the 3D movie trailer of Wild inside a Samsung Gear VR. It made me believe I was there. It was so real that I felt uncomfortable not greeting and acknowledging the very real Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern nearby.

The term presence is self-explanatory; it is the feeling of being in this alternative three-dimensional space, even though the mind and all senses but sound and sight contradict this feeling.

Mine was just one experience, but millions of people have now had this flash realization during demonstrations. It’s powerful enough that Samsung has shipped over 2 million Gear VRs, and at last count Google and its partners have shipped over 15 million.

The experience of being present in virtual reality positively impressed the public, but the idea of long periods of isolation and wearing a scuba-mask-like headset put them off to the idea of VR and AR. Sure, the 28-year-old nicknamed Warlock who lives in his mom’s basement is going to shift his endless hours with his game console, flat screen and game controllers to a head mounted display (HMD). But the average person isn’t anxious to cut themselves off during long periods of immersive isolation.

 

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