Trends in tech come and go, but after decades of stops and starts, virtual and augmented reality are finally here to stay.
Research published on Statista predicts an immense leap in value for the VR/AR market by 2022. In 2016, the total market value sat at a mere $6.1bn. By 2018, that market hit $27bn. However, by 2022, the market should reach $209.2bn, an increase of more than 3,400% in just six years.
While popular media focuses on uses for VR/AR technology in entertainment, games and videos are just the tip of the virtual iceberg. From B2B sales to medical research, everyone will feel the impact of VR/AR technology in the next few years.
The technology’s surge in popularity will attract more investors, which is great news for entrepreneurs and inventors. However, more money leads to more competition. To thrive in a cutthroat market, would-be pioneers in the VR/AR world need to know whether their products are worth buying.
The new reality
Applications and hardware for VR/AR will continue to gain traction in 2019 and beyond as more entrepreneurs try to earn a slice of the virtual pie.
Even in the $30bn home furnishings market, virtual reality is making an impact. Companies like Ikea and Wayfair are using new technology to give more in-depth previews of products, allowing prospective buyers to imagine what it would be like to sit on that new couch at home. Thanks to the prevalence of smartphones, most consumers can take full advantage of these previews with devices like Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard.
Speaking of Google, the big dogs of the industry are making it easier than ever for developers to join the fray. From Apple and Google’s own kits to the newest release from Magic Leap, companies are practically begging startups to make magic with their devices. Not surprising, considering that PwC projects the US to have 55 million active VR headsets by 2022.
This confluence of factors has created a technological gold rush in VR/AR. Entrepreneurs are flocking to these exciting new tools, releasing products as quickly as possible to attempt to garner audience (and investor) attention.
Unfortunately, most of those releases will be forgotten as quickly as they arrive. To avoid falling into the background, entrepreneurs must identify what makes their products special and deliver experiences that can stand the test of time.
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How to see the future of your VR/AR product
Ready to take over the VR/AR market? Start by following these three steps to determine your product’s viability:
1. Think beyond next year
In 2019, plenty of companies will make one-off VR apps that live and die in the span of a few days. Avoid falling into that trap by thinking about the potential of your product and how that product might fit in the market of tomorrow.
For example, you don’t need to make another first-person zombie game for a VR headset. Dozens of other developers already have that covered. Instead, think about an unfilled need that will last beyond the next few weeks, then figure out how to meet that need. Maybe that means changing your target audience. Maybe it means introducing new functionality. Whatever you decide, let the future (not the present) of the market dictate your next move.
2. Consider the competition
With so many competing entrants in the VR/AR market, a few of them are bound to have some good ideas. Look at what your competitors are doing and consider whether you could implement some of their tactics and technology into your own offering.
Don’t limit your view to your direct competitors, though. Peek outside your niche for unique inspiration. If you want to become the go-to provider for B2B manufacturing companies, look at comparable B2C companies (like car manufacturers) to borrow ideas on user experience, extent of immersion, etc.
3. Seek outside input
You and everyone at your company might love your solution, but if you don’t get some outside advice, you might miss vital information. Ask a third-party expert or service to come in and evaluate your product’s functionality and market to see if you overlooked any details.
Did someone else already try and fail to do what you’re doing? Is another company on track to beat you to market? Does your most prized feature confuse and frustrate first-time users? When you operate from a position of bias, you are more likely to brush aside potential weaknesses in favor of your existing viewpoint. Bring in some outside viewers and listen to their advice when they tell you to take a second look.
As the VR/AR market becomes more crowded, entrepreneurs will need to do even more to distinguish their products from the crowd. Consumers and buyers won’t see all the hard work that went into your offering — only the final result. Make sure it’s a good one by following these steps to evaluate your product before you take it to market.