Is virtual reality dead in the water? Jo Cook puts on her headset to find out.
Virtual (and augmented) reality is “not going to return or be really profitable for us for quite a while” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, of its VR company Oculus, to investors. And The Economist stated that “even ardent gaming fans have been slow to embrace VR.
“No-one can blame them. The content has been underwhelming, and the gear needed to do the job properly has been too cumbersome and expensive.”
If this wasn’t bad enough, the head of VR and AR for game development platform Unity, Tony Parisi, said in a PC Games News interview: “If I could recommend anybody to make a game in VR I’d do it on the basis of getting into this field.
“Not on an economic argument. We believe in the long haul, we don’t know how long it’s going to take, we believe in the long-term success of this technology. But, in the meantime, I can’t make an economic recommendation.”
In the gaming industry it’s looking bad for VR – the financial investment isn’t going to be returned in the near future. If the games industry is slowing down in its use of VR, then what does that mean for L&D, which often pick up technology after it’s been established in other areas?
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It depends how you look at it. L&D entrepreneur Marco Faccini wrote about the topic: “Unlike many previous technology advances which have been vendor driven one thing for certain is that VR, AR … is being created, shaped and guided by ‘the community’ who consist of developers, vendors, agencies and users alike.”
Research and advisory company Gartner, with their 2017 report into megatrends that will drive digital business into the next decade, put Virtual Reality as being two to five years away from mainstream adoption but well into its journey.
What all this means to me is that there is huge investment in a technology area by lots of firms – such as Boost VC (venture capital) where 70% of their next round is VR companies, or Facebook, that spent $2bn on Oculus in 2014.
These companies wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t think that there would be some returns – financial or otherwise – in the future. Whilst it might not be the cash cow of either the L&D or gaming market in 2018, it’s certainly on a road to widespread use.
The combination of VR, AR or any component will be interesting both now and in the future. It’s not going to rock my world right now, but I’ve got design and delivery focus elsewhere. It might not even rock your world this year – but it’s certainly something not to dismiss.
The broader your role with regards learning and organisations, then the more you should be focused on finding out about the elements of technology such as this and just how it could make a huge impact for you.