Could Virtual Reality Be Another Flop Like 3D TV Was 4 Years Ago?

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a1Yesterday I was out having a drink with a buddy of mine and as I’m telling him about the bright future that the virtual and augmented reality industries has ahead of themselves, out pops from his all-knowing mouth, “Isn’t this just another 3D TV fiasco?”

I paused for a few seconds as it really hit me.  Could I be completely wrong about this?  Could VR and AR flop as badly as the 3D TV space did a few years back?  After all I do remember how excited the television manufacturing industry seemed to be about 3D glasses and television sets in people’s living rooms.  Three or four years later, I don’t think I even know of one person who uses a 3D TV on a regular basis.  Not to mention, if you walk the isles of a BestBuy or Costco, such TVs are like endangered species.   As all this bounced around in my head I quickly shouted out, ‘NO!”

Yes it will be difficult to sell people on VR movies or short films.  It’s difficult to create content in a movie-like format and not risk having the viewer become distracted from the main storyline.  From a personal perspective when I have a VR headset tethered to my face I tend to want to look around quite frantically in all directions.  From a director’s standpoint, such behavior is a nightmare.  Additionally most people, myself include, like to relax, sometimes with their loved ones and enjoy a flick or their favorite show from their bed or comfortable sofa.  Unless you are an exotic bird it’s pretty much impossible to view something in 360-degree format without having to stand up for almost the entire movie.

Now it may sound like I’m agreeing with my buddy, but here’s the reason why he’s wrong.  Virtual and augmented reality will excel in so many other areas.  While 3D TV was good for one thing… watching television, VR and AR have incredibly utility in a number of large markets.  The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are already transforming the gaming industry, and it doesn’t just end at games.  Some of the hottest downloads for these devices are experiences.  Think of an experience as sort of a movie in which there is no specific plot, and you direct the action based on your own actions within the virtual world.  This is the future of entertainment and it’s all centered around VR.

Besides the entertainment space, VR and AR will be huge within the enterprise space, helping companies envision new designs, product placements, and even allowing them to provide virtual experiences to customers so that they can better understand what they are buying.  Education is another space in which VR and AR will excel at over the coming decade.  Not only will learning become fun and immersive, but thanks to augmented reality learning can sometimes be supplanted by merging the computer with an individuals vision.  Putting together that next exercise machine may be a breeze as an AR device is able to quickly show you how to do it, on the fly, by augmenting your normal vision.

Whereas 3D TV had all it’s eggs in one basket, the television/movie space, VR and AR have diversified their prospects to encompass dozens upon dozens of possible multi-billion dollar market opportunities.  This technology is hear to stay, and you all better begin to get use to it.  Let’s hear your thoughts on this story in the VR / AR Future Prospects forum on VRTalk.com.