While many of us are already using our smartphones to experience virtual reality to some extent, it may be as long as a decade before the bulky headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Rive are replaced by mobile smartphone-sized devices that allow consumers to take virtual reality and augmented reality on the go.
Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with Alibaba’s founder and Chairman Jack Ma in China this week, and the conversation quickly was drawn towards virtual reality. Ma, who is looking for ways to implement VR in a way to help his customers shop online, seemed interested in what Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, the parent company of Oculus, had to say on the subject.
“When I think of the VR, I think how can I help those women and girls shopping [for] their things on our site easier. Get them [to] buy these things easier, quicker and nicer,” Ma said. “And how can we use this VR tech to help the sellers to sell their things in a very friendly way.”
Zuckerberg apparently is a realist when it comes to technology. He understand that markets and new technologies take time to develop, and that’s just how he views the virtual reality space. The Oculus Rift, which will launch in 8 days, already seems to have a cult-like following, yet Zuckerberg thinks it will take time for the VR market to really catch on. He also believes that VR will become mainstream once it can become truly portable, like the smartphone has.
“Every 10 or 15 years, there are new computer platforms that are more natural, immersive and help us interact in the world every day,” Zuckerberg said. “I think that will be augmented, or virtual, reality.”
While users can already use their smartphones along with various headset attachments in limited situations to interact with VR, Zuckerberg still believes we are 5-10 years away from a smartphone that’s able to act by itself as a powerful VR and AR device. When this time comes, the VR market will likely be on par with that of the smartphone market, with billions of users worldwide. In the past Zuckerberg has also speculated about the potential of VR within the Facebook Social network. He likely envisions this as a possibility once everyone has a VR device in their pocket.
What are your thoughts on the future of virtual reality? Let us know in the Facebook VR forum on VRTalk.com.