Is 2021 the Year VR Finally Gains Traction?
If you look at it objectively, this should be the year for virtual reality (VR). Billions of people are stuck at home, but longing to seek an escape without endangering anyone. Life in lockdown has been challenging for all of us, and it seems like VR was tailor made for exactly this. VR has struggled to reach a widespread audience. Yet, with the seismic shifts that are changing almost every part of our society, from the workplace to the healthcare system – VR could gain some real traction and become the new household technology.
VR in 2020
Before we look forward, let’s look back at just how far VR came in 2020. Here are some of the biggest milestones:
- AR went from being a developing technology to a mainstream product. There are now around 600 million AR users around the world, and that number will keep rising.
- Anchor location technology improved significantly. This means we were able to map out virtual content to match real-world locations even more accurately than before, which is great news for VR tourism and similar solutions.
- High speed 5G was rolled out in many places, dramatically improving connectivity.
- Software improvements mean that we can now create 3D representations of our environment that are so lifelike you might not notice they’re fake.
So it’s safe to say that, building on these successes, 2021 will be a massive year for VR.
The Impact of Covid
The good news is that while the short-term outlook for VR might be a struggle (like most industries), if it can ride out the pandemic, then the future is incredibly promising. Industry insights on the short and long term impacts of Covid on the VR and AR market reveal that:
- XR hardware revenues will overtake $28 billion annually in 2025.
- Total XR shipments (VR and AR headsets) will increase six-fold from now to 2025.
- 2021 and 2022 will see a comeback for smartphone-tethered VR headsets, thanks to the increase in 5G networking.
If anything, Covid has highlighted the benefits of VR technology, and where it can really make an impact.
Of course, it’s not just VR that’s progressing. Some tech gurus believe that while the individual technology has its limits, when combined with others, it could be explosive. This is known as Extended Reality – a term that covers VR, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality – and it has the potential to be one of the most transformative tech trends of the next five years. In essence, this will allow us to experience VR as a cloud service. One that we can access just like Spotify or Netflix. And with the help of AI, we will also have more personalised virtual worlds to explore and even more advances in other fields. From creating digital twins of entire cities, enhancing the delivery of health care, and even how we listen to music. Elon Musk has even predicted the rise of brain-computer interfaces.
At Orbital Media, we’re passionate about VR technologies and are keen to explore all opportunities in this area. If you have a project or a challenge for us, get in touch. We’d love to talk.