Investing in technology always requires a firm grasp of what that technology can do, if not exactly how it works. Virtual reality has hit the scene with a splash, gaining a great deal of traction in tech expos and among early adopters in recent years. It has certainly come to the point where investors need to decide if virtual reality projects are worth the investment. The answer is somewhat complicated. Also, it does involve understanding where the industry is now – and where it is likely to move in the future. So should you invest in virtual reality?
Virtual reality is defined as a realistic, three dimensional computer simulation that can be interacted with through the use of special equipment. In today’s terms, virtual reality is most easily defined as a very specific type of computer application that is run through a reasonably powerful computer. Then, the user sees it through a high-tech headset. VR may often seem like it is something out of science fiction. However, it has reached a point where the devices are manufactured reliably and are very much within the field of public consumption.
Virtual Reality Explained: Overview
Today’s virtual reality device is, for the most part, a gaming device. Most of the VR devices on the market have at least some connection with gaming companies or are primarily used as gaming platforms themselves. Users wear the headset, which typically connects to either a home computer or to a gaming system. Interaction tends to take place through the use of a standard gaming controller. However, some efforts have been made to provide specialized feedback systems that allow for more realistic interaction. The vast majority of the software available consists of small-scale games. These are generally trading on the novelty of the systems to sell each individual game.
Outside of the gaming space, there are a few industries that are beginning to invest in virtual reality. The medical field, for example, is toying with the use of virtual reality for everything from physical therapy assistance to tele-surgery. Indeed, the vast majority of this kind of usage is isolated and in its early stages. But it is important to note the connection of virtual reality with this major industry. A number of other industries, including manufacturing and education, are also looking into the possibility of virtual reality to augment education or daily work practices. So we can say that many who wish to invest in virtual reality mostly get their inspiration from potential industrial applications.
Invest in Virtual Reality: The Details
The future of virtual reality is one that seems to waver between slow growth and amazing promise. Most of the near-term development seems designed to do two things – bring down the overall price of virtual reality and finding new methods of interaction with the programs. One of the biggest things holding back the platform right now is price. A standard virtual reality set combined with the computer to reliably run programs will cost a user nearly two thousand dollars. Devices like Playstation VR may have brought down the price to under one thousand dollars. But the high price of adoption is still a major barrier for those who wish to invest in virtual reality.
Virtual reality’s future does seem more likely to connect to the workplace than with individual users. While virtual reality games have become popular over the past few years, none have truly penetrated the public consciousness. Most of the more exciting developments on the VR front have been industrial in nature, which will likely make the higher price-point less relevant. New applications are in the process of development. So it is reasonably likely that virtual reality will find a place in many industrial settings. Once one industry decides to invest in virtual reality, it’s likely that others will follow suit.
Answering the Debate: The Pros and Cons of Investing in Virtual Reality
As with any investment, there are risks and benefits to virtual reality. It is impossible to see the future. Yet, one can look at the current state of the industry as well as similar products in the past to get a decent idea of how things might shake out. There are a few solid pros to investing in the technology, as well as a host of issues that might stop a cautious investor from deciding to invest in virtual reality.
The Pros of VR
- Virtual reality is still in its infancy; it is certainly poised for growth;
- Several sectors, including the health care sector are developing new uses for the technology;
- It is in use in the video game industry, which is a multi-billion dollar part of the economy;
- Multiple established entities like AMD have expressed an intent to enter the VR space soon;
- Virtual reality is certainly a part of the popular imagination – people want it to succeed;
- The technology has grown leaps and bounds over just a few year, putting a perfected version of VR within reach.
The Cons of VR
- Virtual reality still has the overall image of a curiosity;
- There are currently no killer applications for the field;
- Virtual reality is quickly splintering among platforms, which hurts the adoption rates of any given device;
- VR devices are currently under-performing on the market;
- The devices that are on the market are still at a price point that scares off all but early adopters;
- While plans exist for industry adoption, these plans are not yet beyond the prototype stage;
- As a concept, VR has been around for decades – and it still has not hit the mainstream.
Through the VR Glasses
Should you invest in virtual reality? All signs point to no, at least at the moment. It’s entirely possible that VR will be a winning proposition in the future. But the time still isn’t right. Once plans emerge for a device that is available to consumers for a total price of near five hundred dollars, it’s entirely possible that the technology will become mainstream.
Until that point, you should invest cautiously. Unless significant industrial and/or service applications emerge soon, it is still relatively safe to look as an investment you should consider not for the present, but for the future.
The images are from depositphotos.com.