Having been a skeptic over the years in stereo 3D, Andy Stout sees no reason to risk his position when it comes to Virtual Reality. Augmented Reality, on the other hand …
A recent study on the growth of the Digi-Capital virtual / augmented reality market suggested that it would be worth so much at $ 150 billion in annual revenue by 2020. These are surprising numbers, especially considering that the expansion in last year’s reports indicated that even 2018 would be worth just between $ 1 billion and $ 5 billion.
So, what has changed in the meantime? Well, everything really. As you can read here and elsewhere that Facebook bought the Oculus Rift, Microsoft launched its HoloLens, Google and others invested half a billion in Florida’s startup Magic Leap, Sky and other broadcasters began to do significant tests on the technology and at the Olympics. Broadcast Services said it would favor VR instead of 4K from next year’s Rio Olympics.
Basically, the tech-savvy world and his wife checked their smart watches for departure time and jumped into the virtual reality movement.
Even so, moving from niche to mass market forecasts is a considerable leap. However, Digi-Capital’s report is not as whimsical as it sounds – it puts the 2018 market in a shadow below $ 50 billion before a sharp rise in the next two years – but it is still 10x what even the most optimistic previous report was reporting.
The difference is AR. Digi-Capital divided the market into VR and AR, and this is where the company sees real growth coming.
“Where virtual reality puts users in virtual worlds, immersing them, AR puts virtual things in the users’ real worlds, increasing them,” wrote the company’s MD, Tim Merel, at the time.
The point is that the immersive nature of complete VR limits its deployment. Exactly who the industry considers to be their main market varies, but I would suggest that you could put players, 3D movie enthusiasts (remember them?) And niche commercial users, such as surgeons, etc. in the pot… I could conceivably also find favor with what we can euphemistically refer to as the adult hand audience as well. But that’s it.
The problem is that immersion breaks the connection with our surroundings and, nervous little mammals in the savannah that we still are, we don’t like to be removed from the environment. The arguments about viewers reluctant to wear glasses to watch in 3D stereo were just rehearsals for the mockery that will accumulate in VR headsets when they reach the mainstream, not to mention the lawsuits when Jonny trips over the cat while chasing Princess Anna. a mountain …
As a result, chances are that its launch will closely follow that of a new console, providing significant revenue and accumulating the first users, but not being a game changer in itself.
The growth of AR may be more analogous to the smartphone market and the difference in numbers. VR = 10s of millions of users. AR = 100s of millions, which is why Digi-Capital predicts that, of this annual revenue of US $ 150 billion, US $ 120 billion will be provided by AR.
Obviously, the AR so far has been irregular. Google Glass, despite an interesting experiment, was a technology whose deployment was probably a little ahead of its time. But AR certainly has a potential that VR may lack, and that potential applies to all sectors, from consumer electronics, mobile data providers to application developers.
In fact, you can even contextualize the current smart watch and wearable market as a bridge to AR; a way to get consumers used to the idea of pairing a complementary input / display device with the 4G unit in their bags, which provides connectivity, memory and some localized grunt, all being handled in the cloud.
There is still a lot of work to be done and the numbers still seem optimistic for the slightly jaundiced look of this journalist. But the argument that AR overcomes VR seems like a solid argument.
The British broadcaster and series technology pioneer Sky has done some VR testing with a variety of programming genres and so far the results have been mixed. One of the keys to success, from the viewer’s point of view, apparently lies in having a lot to see; therefore, a visually lively comedy, such as Trollied, performed well with the audiences, while its elegant but slow and arctic drama Fortitude performed poorly. It should also be noted that having to build 360º sets to accommodate all of this, even in CG, will be expensive, and until now RV productions seem to be about 50% above the budget of conventional ones.
But think about it for a moment. An enlarged version of Fortitude, for example, in which spectacle wearers could call actor overlays, consult character biographies, request music downloads of what was playing at the bar in a specific scene, and even ask which sex the polar bear was chewing on. the corpse of an unhappy actor – at the same time that he is fully present in his own living rooms – seems like a much easier sale.
And this is just TV. Add the broader arguments for the benefits of AR in the real world and you have the potential for a very significant new technology that can convey a whole range of underlying social benefits and structural changes.
VR? In the same way that stereo 3D ran along the hype curve, I think this is a mix of technological determinism and arrogance: a ‘build and they will come’ approach that has not been tested to a significant degree in the market and can crash and burn in the same dark way. AR, however, now has a chance.