For some time now, various media channels have been singing the death song for virtual reality. More or less informed commentators say either that the hardware is too expensive, or that the available content is not enough varied and adapted to all tastes.
But is this really the true state of things? Looking at statistics concerning virtual reality studios, it is anything but. VR is nowhere close to its demise when more and more businesses open and thrive across the world.
Virtual Reality Studios Keep the Industry Very Much Alive
According to VirtualRealityMarketing.com , the largest online registry of 360/VR/AR studios, there is an explosion of virtual reality studios all over the world. In 2015, the registry managed to add barely 99 studios in its online catalog. Currently, it features over 1,700 virtual reality studios.
The co-founder of VirtualRealityMarketing.com, Rick Berglin, estimates that 1.5 VR studios open every day across the globe. Some of these may not thrive, but the general trend is towards a busy industry with lots of VR projects coming in every day.
In the end, it’s not about the VR industry but rather all about what VR and AR can do for everyone else.
Another trend is that for existing game and video production companies to add VR/360 capabilities to their skills. This is a proof that immersive technologies are taking over and slowly replacing standard 2D games and movies.
The Biggest Concerns. Despite the positives, there are some concerns about virtual reality. For example, some critics point out health and safety issues. If the technology is not used properly, users might suffer from health issues like seizures and other major discomfort. Some people could also trip and fall. There are also major privacy concerns with virtual reality. Some people fear that the headsets could lead to government surveillance, although there is no proof of that as of yet.
The Marketing Industry – the Biggest Client for Virtual Reality Studios
While virtual reality is used for everything from personal entertainment to advanced product design, one industry stands out as the main supporter of the technology: marketing. This industry needs to reinvent itself constantly. Consumers use ad blockers and anti-tracking filters to evade online advertising. Therefore, traditional, offline ads fail to draw attention.
This is where virtual reality studios step in. They are ready to create immersive and high quality content for the marketing industry. This content fits seamlessly into the VR experiences consumers enjoy. It is also less disruptive and adds a gamification layer to the overall consumption of promotional content.
According to Berglin, “Regardless of what you or I may think about it, the big brands are the ones sitting on the money to pay for top notch VR. And they are very much incentivized to pay.”
That is not to say that other industries do not benefit from virtual reality tech. New immersive tools and technologies are affecting many other industries. As Terry Proto, co-founder of VirtualRealityMarketing.com, puts it, “If you look around, you’ll see lots of really exciting use cases for these technologies that start to have a real impact across several business verticals. In the end, it’s not about the VR industry but rather all about what VR and AR can do for everyone else.”
The First Attempt at a VR Experience – The Sensorama. In the 1950s, a cinematographer by the name of Morton Heilig came up with a unique concept he later developed, known as the Sensorama. Featuring an arcade-style theater cabinet, the sensorama was aimed at stimulating a person’s senses. It featured a stereoscopic 3D display, fans and smell generators, stereo speakers, as well as a vibrating chair. The idea of the Sensorama was to fully immerse a person into a film-like experience. Heilig also went on to create as much as six short movies for his device.
The Ball Is in the Court of Hardware Manufacturers
“ Once we have comfortable, good quality headsets at affordable prices, we will see an explosion of quality VR content from brands all over the world. “
While the software and content creation side is ready, the hardware industry is lagging behind. Virtual reality studios need mass adoption of VR in order to deploy their content. And mass adoption is still not here, because headsets are still heavy, bulky and expensive.