Virtual reality might have been a fad in decades past, but its latest iteration shows no signs of slowing. Some industry experts predict the global virtual reality market will balloon to $120.5 billion by 2026, which is incredible growth compared with its estimated size of $7.3 billion in 2018.
According to a Digi-Capital report, augmented and virtual reality investments added up to more than $5.4 billion in the 12 months before the second quarter of 2019. Facebook, which acquired VR pioneer Oculus in 2014, employs more than 4,000 people in its AR/VR unit and has been leading the charge in terms of hardware and software investment.
Facebook and Oculus have worked on everything from higher-resolution displays to varifocal displays that track and focus eyes individually to achieve true depth perception. The companies also are doing a lot of research on interfacing reality labs and developing things like full-body tracking using only cameras.
Those virtual reality investments will eventually benefit everyone in the space. At Sandbox VR, for example, we want upcoming virtual reality hardware and technology to work in tandem and improve our user experience with minimal investment.
Virtual Reality Investments Will Pay Dividends
As large companies like Facebook, Valve, and HEC continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars and raise the stakes of virtual reality market competition, the VR space will continue to evolve in exciting ways. These two investment areas, specifically, represent significant potential for the future of virtual reality:
• The ability to remove tethers: One of the biggest changes in the past year is that virtual reality can now happen regardless of whether users are tethered in with cables. Our company has gotten around that limitation by having users wear backpacks, but the Oculus Quest headset is fully standalone and frees its users from any physical connections — or even needing to use a PC. While the Quest’s graphical capability is much lower than headsets that connect to PCs, that shortcoming is likely to disappear with time.
As more VR innovators are able to untether without sacrificing other aspects of the experience, the future of virtual reality will benefit. In particular, users will feel much more immersed in experiences as their range of motion is unencumbered by chairs or wires connected to their headsets. The added convenience and freedom provided by untethered VR will be tremendous.
• Improved hardware capabilities: For the past few years, display resolution and field of view were the big factors holding back virtual reality hardware capabilities. Those aspects have been improving every other year or so, which creates more demand in terms of the processing power of the PCs paired with those headsets.
Higher-resolution displays require more powerful PCs, and we’ve reached a point where processing power is virtual reality’s main limiting factor. That limitation will be even more pronounced as headsets become capable of hitting retina resolutions in the next year or two. Over time, however, those computers will shrink to the point that hardware manufacturers will be able to embed them in the headsets themselves.
These two main focuses for virtual reality investment should fuel numerous innovations for users in the coming years, enabling them to enjoy VR without putting on trackers or wearing backpacks. The entire VR community is excited about the ongoing investment in hardware and software alike.
Are you a potential franchise owner who is interested in the future of virtual reality? Visit Sandbox VR now to learn how you can become part of this movement.