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Will 2016 be the year of virtual reality?

Umair Ahmed
18th Feb 2016
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2016 will be the year where we will witness the shift of focus and investment from social networks and smartphones to virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) is the next big thing, with 2016 being the year of VR. You would have definitely read or listened to this statement many times if you have any interest in gadgets and technology. But will VR become mainstream technology? Will it open new doors of opportunities for businesses, and will we see startups focussing on it?

Several such questions are yet to be answered, but let’s have a brief look at the possibilities and developments we are going to witness with the emergence of VR.

virtual_reality

Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion and the first Oculus Rift VR headset is ready to launch in March this year.

Will VR emerge as a mainstream technology?

When Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, Mark Zuckerberg was not throwing this huge amount on just another peripheral for PC or gaming console. Instead, he was investing in something that will become part of our daily lives in the near future. He said:

“One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.” 

While Oculus Rift VR headset is available for pre-orders and available for sale by the March 2016, other major companies like Sony and HTC are working on VR, with Sony about to launch Play Station VR and HTC Vive on its way to hitting the stores very soon. Apple has also started working on VR, and Google is going to launch its standalone VR headset soon.

Although all the above headsets are really expensive and also need powerful PCs or the latest smartphone to run, Google has already managed to ship more than five million units of Google Cardboard VR, a $2-alternative for expensive VR headsets, to experience VR.

Still, the question remains whether VR will become a mainstream technology? Founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, has a clear answer to this:

“Most people don’t have computers with high-end graphics cards. In the future, that’s going to change: give it five or six years, and most computers will be capable of running good virtual experiences.”

What does VR means for businesses and startups?

When smartphones first emerged, who knew that they are going to change the routine of billions of people? But today we see people busy on their phones using social media apps, playing games and surfing the Internet. Apple and Google are alone generating billions in revenue from the App Store and Play Store respectively.

So what are the prospects of VR? Many believe VR will be only the subset of the mobile ‘apps and games’ revolution, but this is not true, as VR will add more personal experience to the users. That is why we already have started seeing the virtual reality supported apps and games and in near future we are going to enjoy virtual movies like we enjoy 3D today.

Virtual reality has a lot of potential in the education world and one can sense the ‘real-world experience’ it will bring to classrooms. VR education, movies and games are just the beginning, and it is going to be a good opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs. Within the next three to four years, we will see startups focussing completely on VR.

How VR will impact daily life

How VR is going to impact our daily lives is not yet clear. When smartphones were launched almost a decade ago, no one could imagine the impact they have now on our lives. Same will be the case with VR.

Virtual reality will definitely bring some major changes to our lives but it will be more on us to embrace the change at the level convenient for us. On the other hand many psychologists believe VR will have a drastic impact on our lives with ‘Zero moment of truth’.

Conclusion

With the interest of almost all the big names of tech industry, we can say that VR is going to get a lot more attention. And not only will it bring more business opportunities for the giants of industry we will see more opportunities for startups in terms of business and new areas to explore.

2016 will be the first year when we will witness the shift of focus and investment from social networks and smartphones to VR. It is only a matter of time when things will be clearer and we will be able to start looking at the impact of VR in our lives.

 

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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