Eavesdropper – AR/VR push: Time is right for new tech to enter mass market, but pricing has to play its part

By: |
March 15, 2021 5:00 AM

While AR/VR have been in parlay for long now, especially as gaming devices or for business and research applications, a significant problem hindering mass-market adoption has been the price. Until the prices of products crash, apps like Spatial will remain a novelty item.

While AR/VR have been in parlay for long now, especially as gaming devices or for business and research applications, a significant problem hindering mass-market adoption has been the price.While AR/VR have been in parlay for long now, especially as gaming devices or for business and research applications, a significant problem hindering mass-market adoption has been the price.

Until last year if someone would have opined that 2021 will be the turning point for augmented and virtual reality, not many would have believed that people would take such a big leap of faith and drive adoption of these devices. However, lockdowns, video meetings and reliance on work from home has changed all that within a year. More people are trying to connect online, and it is unlikely that companies will switch to complete offline modes again. Conferences will operate in a hybrid model, and with an explosion of new features—noise cancellation, live opinion polls—there is little chance of weaning people away from online. On the other hand, there is a problem with Zoom fatigue. Given that companies could carry on with their events, the market has been beset with too much video-conferencing and all the same kind.

Companies like Spatial are reinventing video conferencing with VR technology. Not only can companies create an office setting to meet but and enhance productivity but can also create a life-like model of employees to interact with colleagues. While animation still is a large part of VR calling, graphics are improving over time. And then there is the push from Facebook.

A report from The Verge highlights that AR/VR divisions at Facebook now account for a fifth of its workforce. Until 2017, only 5% of its employees belonged to AR/VR division, mostly working on the Oculus VR product that Facebook purchased. Now, the company has near about 10,000 employees in the Reality Labs division.

The push comes at a time when Facebook has also been working on new AR glasses, which it believes will drive the market in smart variables and give the company enough data to capitalise on its products.

Facebook is not the only company looking to capitalise on AR/VR. Reliance Jio, last year, announced a low-cost VR device, which it believes will transform the market as far as shopping and education are concerned.

While AR/VR have been in parlay for long now, especially as gaming devices or for business and research applications, a significant problem hindering mass-market adoption has been the price. Until the prices of products crash, apps like Spatial will remain a novelty item.

And, for prices to crash, either more companies need to enter the market or the big tech giants need to fast-track their efforts.

The other issue for AR/VR is privacy issues. With big tech already under scrutiny on the use of data and market power, companies will have to give something back to the users for gaining more data and getting them to agree to share more information.

Data gains aside, AR and VR will also have to increase interaction. Right now, most devices have a limited range and battery, hindering long term use. The technology needs a Pokemon Go moment again.

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