Virtual Reality Adoption Threatened by Bandwidth and Standards
Despite the huge interest among investors to adopt virtual reality, the technology is still in its infancy and according to a research report released by Greenlight VR last week, the lack of technological standards across the industry along with bandwidth issues will certainly derail its tipping point.
Meanwhile, Clifton Dawson, the CEO of Greenlight VR said in a press release that the adoption of virtual reality by many small and big firms alike is quite encouraging and is resulting to a number of opportunities right now.
“There are disruptions unfolding and exciting new markets being created, but not in the size, structure, and timeline most expect,” Dawson said. “While we forecast a slower adoption curve over the near term, we’re encouraged by the degree of progress being made by large and small companies in the space.
Apparently, even though there is a lot of laudable early work done in virtual reality so far, most of it is related to visual wonders created in virtual reality spaces and is yet to touch the core, Nicholas Fortugno, CCO and Co-Founder of Playmatics, a gaming and virtual reality designer firm, said, while commenting on the future of virtual reality.
“Currently, virtual reality is in a discovery phase,” Fortugno said. “A lot of work is riding on the sheer wonder of the fully occluded visual field, and playing with the rawest experiences that creates.”
According to Fortugno, much of virtual reality is being applied in the gaming world but is also gaining traction in the commercial world, and it will be more widely adopted for commercial uses than for household uses.
“I think commercial uses of more advanced virtual reality are much closer to us, and will appear before virtual reality penetrates normal households,” Fortugno said.
Couple of challenges prior to mainstream adoption
Before virtual reality becomes adopted in the mainstream, it will undergo a natural sorting process in which many platforms will seek to optimize for specific use cases, the report said. The technology will, during this time, experience conflicting standards, compatibility issues, technological dead-ends, and market failures and might confuse and frustrate consumers.
“I think that we still haven’t found the basic vocabulary of virtual reality and that’s the challenge we have as an industry,” Fortugno said.
Virtual reality being a very bandwidth intensive technology, bandwidth challenges are already being experienced in regard to streaming the huge files needed without buffering and without imparting bandwidth, Dawson pointed out, in a recent show. Even Facebook has confessed encountering that challenge.
Virtual reality will eventually overcome those challenges
Dawson however thinks the challenges will be surmounted, saying: “Ultimately, we are optimistic that the industry will overcome current obstacles, which exist all along the value-chain and are structural, technical, and human in nature.”
The report emphasized the need to develop platforms that are more inclusive and self-sufficient, but developing such systems will take time. For example, significant multidisciplinary technological improvements and more time will be needed to develop a headset that can support both virtual reality and augmented reality (mixed reality) – as was pointed out by Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg in a recent F8 conference – according to Steve Marshall, senior vice president at Greenlight VR.
According to Dawson, it is possible that carrier involvement and entry of 5G wireless technology in virtual reality scene will catalyze adoption. Verizon, for instance, recently teamed with Samsung to start testing this technology.
“Smart people are going to figure out what ‘editing’ means for virtual reality, and that will be the game changer,” said Fortugno. “Editing in this case means having a language that communicates narrative that’s medium-specific. In film, editing is the primary way story is told. Virtual reality doesn’t have a grammar like that right now. That is what we need to develop.”
Headsets to drive markets
The report which offers a 10-year forecast of the market virtual reality market says it will be driven by hardware, more particularly the head mounted displays.
It is believed that sales of virtual reality headsets will drive the virtual reality markets, and in the United States alone, these sales are projected to go up from 2.3 million in 2016 to 136 million in 2025. This will include the sale of mobile virtual reality headsets that will grow from 1 million this year to 122 million in 2025, along with the sale of personal computer and console based virtual reality headsets that will rise from 1.3 million this year to 13.6 million in 2025.