Virtual reality (VR) is rapidly becoming a mainstream market. It is no longer merely considered a niche or a far-fetched future technology. VR is already transforming the way things are done in many realms including healthcare and the automobile industry. The gaming industry is definitely no exception.
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality, for those who don’t already know, is a computer-generated interactive experience that takes place in a digital world. Virtual reality simulates reality with realistic imagery and sound. It can also provide tactile input through wearable gear. Virtual reality is different from a mere desk monitor or small screen because it completely envelops your field of vision.
A person in a virtual environment is able to interact with the environment by looking around and manipulating virtual objects. The most common method for creating a fully immersive virtual environment is via headgear or goggles that completely surround your field of vision.
When did it begin?
The virtual reality industry dates back to the 1970s with early flight and spacecraft simulators used by NASA and the military. In 1979, Eric Howlett created a stereoscopic imaging system called the Large Expanse Extra Perspective (LEEP) system which provided a more convincing sense of depth to the virtual world. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that virtual reality headsets began to penetrate the consumer market. However, The VR consumer market didn’t begin to gain momentum until 2010 with the introduction of the Oculus Rift.
In 2017, the VR and augmented reality markets produced sales of over $9 billion. Sony sold over 2 million VR headsets in 2017. Industry experts predict that market revenues are expected to grow to $215 billion by 2021. This is an amazing compound annual growth rate of over 118%. If these predictions are accurate, the VR market will be one of the most rapidly growing industries in the world.
Upcoming technology and market trends
Most consumers are still hesitant to purchase VR gear because of the price and lack of VR game titles to warrant the purchase. Consequently, major tech companies are planning to make headsets more affordable and accessible to the mass market. This should spark a price war that drives the price of VR gear down in the next few years.
Another issue is portability and ease of use. Headsets will become smaller, lighter and more user-friendly while simultaneously dropping in price. New headsets will become wireless, and they will not require frustrating driver installation procedures. Future products will also make game downloads more integrated and easy to accomplish via smartphones and other devices.
The VR industry is still in its early stages, so developers have many challenges ahead of them. However, the growth of the market and frantic competition will see rapid technological advancements and widespread adoption by the average consumer. VR headset may likely be as common as laptops and cellphones.