The Cost of Virtual Reality and it's Future
With cheaper virtual reality headsets in abundance these days and price drops of the Oculus Rift, dropped to £399 on the summer sale and then to a newer lower price point of £499 thereafter, virtual reality looks like its set to become more affordable for the masses.
It's in everyone's best interest for more people to have a VR headset at home. The more there are out there the more developers will create newer and better VR experiences and the less of a gimmick it will become. Not that I believe it be a gimmick, far from it. Its already been used by many in research, training and of course games, that I'm sure everyone would agree that it's been worth while even at this early stage in its life.
As the price comes down and the technology matures I see the sector growing rapidly and of course changing as it does. Even as we look back now to the simple headsets, comparatively, that first came out we already have touch and motion controllers, HTC Vive's room scale VR and haptic feedback wearable's, all on the market to enhance the users experience. It won't be long until we see full immersion suits like the Tesla Suit being readily available.
The real trick will be to make it a simple decision to use. Personally, I don't want to spend 30 minutes getting ready to play a 60 minute session in VR. Likewise, I don't want to have the need for a dedicated room with no furniture in it just in case I feel like popping into the virtual world for a bit. I believe this will be hard to overcome in the short term but in a few years, I can see more discrete setups coming to the market. Already the PSVR has been a big hit, 375,000 units sold in Q1 2017, and this is much more of a symbiotic relationship with your living room but it does lack some of the strengths of its bigger brothers.
The cost behind the scenes to make the kits cheaper and more user friendly while advancing the technology in new ways is probably a number few could guess at but a figure that is very real is that you can now purchase a compatible computer and VR headset with controllers for £999. It is the bare minimum alright but it will do the job. That might seem like a lot to some but bear in mind that price point used to be double only a year ago.
A major help has been the technology advances in GPUs from Nvidia and AMD to make their products more affordable while increasing their ability to handle complex virtual reality games and simulations. Yes, you can spend £5000 on a VR setup and it will be amazing but for most consumers it's beyond their budgets.
I haven’t mentioned the mobile phone experience yet as I still don’t consider it to be true virtual reality, perhaps VR lite at best, but it is getting there. It’s more of an advance viewing system than an immersive interactive world. Saying that, it also has come a long way. Samsung’s GearVR with motion controllers is doing a great job in getting an affordable, quality experience to people. It’s also happens to be one of the first ways people experience VR, through their phone.
In the grand scheme, the technology is still a young plucky teenager but it's growing up fast. At Fourth Reality we mainly develop for B2B and we are excited to see how virtual reality grows and expands so that we can create even more spectacular experiences for our clients. With the advancements to come, personally I can't wait to keep working with the technology and see where it takes us.