As the Research & Development Lead at InContext Solutions, I know—as with any new market—there’s a mixture of trepidation and optimism surrounding virtual reality. But the technology has come a long way, and many industries are beginning to take note of its innovative uses. At InContext, we help businesses in the retail and manufacturing space work smarter, by giving them a way to visualize and evaluate new concepts without ever building anything in the physical world. For our clients, VR allows them to save money and time. So instead of trepidation, here are two reasons why I’m optimistic about VR’s future, and why you should be too:
#1: PC manufacturers are ready to get behind the next big thing
Back in 2014, the first thing to solidify my faith in VR wasn’t a tech demo or industry speech; it was an advertisement for gaming mice from Dell. Gaming mice? Yes, a neon-painted mouse that boasted its multitude of buttons and its opponent-smashing potential. Why would Dell, maker of beige office PC’s, suddenly be advertising for gaudy peripherals? Simple: PC sales have been on the decline for years, while competitive gaming culture has boomed. Manufacturers are ready to put their investment dollars behind the next big thing, and it’s easy to see how VR fits exactly into that mold. Big investments by Intel, Google, and Microsoft are leading the way.
#2: The constituent parts have momentum outside of VR
When VR fizzled out in the 1990’s, headsets were expensive, custom-built monstrosities that were rarely found outside of college campuses and arcades. Now, the major hardware pieces are also found in cell phones, televisions, and gaming consoles:
OLED Screens The display technology behind a lag-free VR experience is also found in new televisions and phones. Just this past July, South Korean manufacturer LG announced plans to invest $7 billion in their OLED production lines. Naturally this will pave the way for more people to have a VR-ready phone in their pockets or a VR headset for their PC.
Depth-Sensing Cameras Look no further than Apple’s new Face ID and Portrait Lighting to see two non-VR uses of depth-sensing cameras. Remember last year’s Pokemon Go craze? It was also built using depth-sensing technology, which is used to track VR controllers and headsets in real-time, thus allowing VR users see a digital version of themselves and others.
Graphics Cards The booms in home gaming consoles, machine learning, and self-driving cars are all propelling the invention of faster and cheaper graphics cards. Graphics cards are the main cost-contributor to today’s pricey VR-ready PC’s--meaning the barrier to adoption will only fall.
As those other industries drive improvements in hardware, the VR world will see the benefits in terms of clearer image quality, smaller hardware footprint, and more realistic interactions. Artists and designers have all the ingredients to deliver new experiences to an ever-growing audience. The future is looking very bright for VR.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.