The most crucial thing about technology is how people change it. It is clear the future of virtual reality technology is bright. VR has grown tremendously over the past few years with 2016 being the most outstanding year. The year has seen consumers get their hands on many great headsets for viewing incredible realities in a 3D environment.
Virtual reality is a fantastic innovation that demonstrates the cutting edge of what technology is capable of doing today. As virtual technology expands from the imaginary world of science fiction and becomes increasingly part of our daily lives. It is obligatory for us to understand the diverse aspects of this technology. The VR market is well and truly on a fast track of global growth.
Biggest trends in virtual reality technology
To get a sense of how quickly and mainstream virtual reality is moving towards, we have to look at the biggest VR trends taking the industry by storm. 2017 promises to be a watershed year for VR as a commercial product. Here are the VR trends to watch;
1. Surge in number of VR companies
In 2015, there were only about 175 VR companies. In 2016, consumers were able to get their hands on unique experience provided by augmented and virtual reality. The figure is projected to double by the third quarter of 2017 with a projection of about 800 companies by around 2020.
The number of VR developers has grown more than ten times since the middle of the last decade. The sheer excitement of relatively new technology, couples by promises of high financial returns makes the sector surge further.
2. Mobile-driven VR
2016 saw the beginning of the distribution of low-end VR gadgets to consumers. Google Cardboard headsets were delivered free to subscribers. With the cardboards, you only need to insert a smartphone to turn Cardboard into a head-mounted display. Better and improved versions of Cardboards are expected to be launched. Recent improvements have seen the introduction of Star War-themed Cardboard headsets at Verizon stores.
3. 360-degree video
One of the biggest breakouts in technology in VR has been the emergence of 360-degree video. 360° allow users to experience breathtaking scenes from multiple angles in up, down and side to side formats. 360° video has shown great potential in sectors such as real estate, training industries, tourism among others. 360° has made possible great experiences of virtual reality tours, simulations and walkthroughs. 360° have been uploaded on social media platforms such as Facebook. Facebook integrated Oculus technology into its own 360 video feature.
4. Rapid increase in the number of users
The proliferation of VR companies and the surge is driven by the rapid growth in demand for the consumers of technology. The global user base of virtual reality devices is expected to grow by almost 450% (i.e. up to 90 million users from the current 0.2 million). Projections point that the number of VR users will nearly double to reach 172 million users by 2018. The heavy users of VR technology will make the total 10 percent (10 million users) with gamers reaching 23 million users. In general, 4 out of 10 people have a high degree of interest in virtual reality.
5. Increased focus on VR content
For a consumer to enjoy the real magic of VR, they must enjoy a broad range of content including games, media, e-commerce application and user generated content. Mobile apps and game developers have started to focus on creating high-quality, engaging content to keep users hooked. VR content under development is much related to next level gaming and entertainment.
6. More headsets and other devices
2016 was labeled the year of VR headsets, and 2017 will be the same, and on a much higher scale. Adoption of devices such as HTC Vive, Google Day Dream, Microsoft HoloLens and Oculus Rift portray where competition is moving towards. There will be a bunch of newer VR devices being launched to the market. The Razer and Fove headsets will become more popular. Newer and improved versions of Google Cardboards are expected to be launched. New companies are expected to enter the competition and raising funds through crowdfunding will be more dominant.
7. Gaming goes mainstream
Virtual reality is expected to make a significant impact on the gaming industry. Consumers are projected to spend more than $5.1 billion on VR gaming hardware, software, and other accessories. Game developers are expected to have a global audience of more than 90 million users in 2017 and more than 172 million consumers by the end of 2018. VR cinemas and more innovative movie theaters are expected to launch soon than later. The use of 3D VR graphics and adoption of other VR tools will widely surge. VR is expected to become an integral part of special effects, particularly in action movies.
8. Moving beyond sights
VR creates immersion simulations for viewers with the help of computer-generated graphics. On the other hand, augmented reality builds in a real world with the use of computer graphics and other enhancements. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (AR) are expected to offer more than simply enhanced viewing experience for users. A common trend among VR app developers has been the incorporation of haptic feedback. Haptic feedback helps create VR headsets that allow people to ‘feel’ the elements in the world in a simulated VR environment. Experts predict that we should expect the arrival of VR devices that support others senses such as smell and touch.
9. Events and exhibitions become virtual playground.
Consumers will have the advantage of trying the capabilities of VR headsets by visiting sponsored events. The sponsored events will be entirely free visits to test new technologies. VR will be highly leveraged on product demos, proof of concept applications and simulations at exhibition centers and events. Attendees should expect a broad range of VR experiences and first insight of what VR technology has to offer. According to analysts, people will be interested in paying for virtual and augmented reality accessories once they can test everything it provides. It seems VR and AR are the next hot trends going to dominate the market for years to come.