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VR is making progress but we are not there yet…

HTC has made available the new Vive Pro, a significant increase in performance from the 2 years old Vive. Amazing user experience but… Image credit: HTC

VR goggles are adopting more advanced technologies (like AMOLED) and are able to deliver more immersive and credible experience. This is what I get reading the review of the last VR visor, the Vive Pro by HCT, a significant advance over the 2 years old Vive. According to the review the sensations to be in virtual world, closely undistinguishable from a real one, is much stronger, thanks to the better stereo display pushing the resolution to 2880×1600 pixel with a density of 615dpi (twice as good as the previous version), and thanks to the spatial sensors (to be placed in the room) that are more accurate and support a larger moving space (you can walk around much more and be tracked with better precision).

The price is a bit on the “un-affordable” side, the visor itself is 800$Us but you have to add the cost of sensors, the graphic card …. In the end the price gets closer to 2,000$ and the set up of the whole system is not easy. Put all this together and it is not clearly a product for the masses.

The biggest issue, however, is the availability and quality of content. Basically you can use it only for gaming, and even there you can get only few titles that cn make use of the visor performances.

VR is in desperate need of content, able to attract a wider audience. And, at least to me, gaming can only be a niche.
There are a number of professional application areas, from architectural design to complex systems maintenance (although in this latter Augmented Reality goggles may be favoured).

These professional applications are not the ones that will generate mass market content nor will contribute to decrease the price of the overall setting.

Personally, I keep seeing VR s a niche market and I bet the real evolution will come from AR. In this area I can easily see a dramatic expansion of content that will push interest and adoption by a wider market and this is what creates volumes and push down price. AR does not need very sophisticated visors, a smartphone can do, and that stimulate content and applications development. Once you have that a better visor than a smart phone could make sense and that can start the adoption of devices that will double back as VR devices.

I can imagine travel agencies, including those on line (particularly those!), offering VR experience to potential customers, as well as services offered on site to bring back memories in VR to share with friends and to re-enhact the experiences. There is a potential market of hundreds of millions in this area.

Education and training are also a markets with huge potential.

I am pretty sure that in the next decade we will see a tremendous increase of AR adoption and that will fuel VR.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.