It seems strange that it took so long for Virtual Reality (VR) devices to find their place on the market. The concept seems to be a perfect money-making opportunity. In one way or another an idea of virtual reality was out there for at least 150 years. And yet only now it finally became somewhat feasible and available on mass market. All while AR for business is already tried and tested commodity.
But even that is not really a sign of a bright future for VR.
The technology is there, the content is almost there but for one reason or another - no one has figured out the right way of making VR business.
Let’s look at the major challenges that VR industry is currently facing.
1 The price is too high
Price is one of the major roadblocks industry is facing right now. Plain and simple - the majority of engaged audience can’t afford buying VR gear. On the other hand - industry players can’t afford lowering price to a reasonable level.
That creates rather curious paradoxical lose-lose situation when both party are hurt and yet they are unwilling to make move in order to get out of this perplexing situation.
Let’s look at both sides.
On VR companies side:
- Production of virtual reality gear is expensive;
- Competition on the market is virtually non-existent;
- No excessive demand from the consumers.
On consumers side:
- Technology is unproven content-wise;
- The price is not justified by anything but cutting edge technology;
- Lack of varying budgetary options;
2 The content is lacking
Offer piece of action. That is pretty obvious thing. It is also the best way of introducing new cutting edge technologies to the mass market is through innovative and engaging content. This approach smoothes the acceptance curve and attracts widest possible audience.
But for some reason that is still something to be desired in case of VR-technology. Industry is still waiting for its killer app.
Videogames are obviously the most lucrative market. However, due to lack of technological standards - various VR-gears are too different and require a lot of adjustments that makes development process much more expensive.
Another opportunity for VR content is education. With a little help of VR-gear teching can explore science and art from entirely new perspective. Virtual reality allows to illustrate wide variety of concepts - such chemical reactions, physical processes, body functions. This will change educational process for the better.
3 Lack of viable business models
Virtual Reality Technology is in the weird place right now. On the one hand - it is cutting edge technology, a brave new world of sorts. On the other, its future is highly questionable on the business side of things.
The fact is - there are no viable cost-effective business models for VR-oriented companies. There is no vision that could drive an industry. We’re yet to figure out how to make it work.
It is tragic because the technology shows promise.
However, there is hope. The industry is too young and there are still too many unknowns to count in. At the moment, the only way to figure it out is through well-known TFTAFB strategy. Which is: Try. Fail. Try again. Fail better.
4 Health effects
Another big issue that VR industry is currently facing is uncertainty about possible effects on health of the users.
In some way this can be considered as an industry-crushing challenge. If there is even the slightest possibility that VR somehow puts their users in the line of fire - the industry will conflagrate by public opinion and subsequently by legislation.
The problem lies in the fact that research on the subject is still too scare and inconclusive. And that raises suspicion of the public.
Long term effects of VR-use are barely explored.
There some definite facts regarding temporary side-effects regarding overuse of VR-gear - such as blurred vision, nausea, headache, queasiness.
However, it is still unknown how virtual reality can affect the user mentally. Can it help curing illness or is there are possibility of evoking psychosis? These questions are yet to be answered.
5 VR perceived as gimmick
This one is particularly perplexing. Despite being a huge technological achievement with potentially groundbreaking impact on everything - VR lacks acceptance from anyone beyond tech enthusiasts and early adopters. Majority of the public perceives it as an expensive gimmick designed for video games.
There are four major reasons for that:
- Common people don’t care about VR because it is 'no use' for them;
- Majority of the public have no idea what VR is truly capable of;
- VR is mostly out of reach for the target audience money-wise;
- Its presentation lacks convincing arguments for its usefulness, i.e. innovative content;
While good marketing campaign is able to raise awareness - it will do nothing if no one is using it. Industry needs a projectile piercing undeniable argument in order to make critical shift in public perception. And that is something no word can do.
In its current state - VR technology is something like a Schrodinger Cat. The situation can be described in such looping expression: it is but not but not really but really is but not exactly but not exactly but definitely is but not really but definitely is not exactly is definitely.
However, there is always a hope that things will change for the better.