Current Trends in AR/VR
Join EduMind as we host two team members from HoloPundits®, a leader in AR/VR app development, for an interview covering some frequently asked questions about this revolutionary technology as well as exploring a few exciting prospects in the field!
Our first guest, Jaya Sai Sontineni, is HoloPundits' extended reality developer responsible for handling all technical delivery operations, managing contact with the crucial development teams at our global development center in India, and working on user interface and functionality of all apps before they are deployed. Our second guest, Doug Smith, is HoloPundits' Customer Success Manager who performs all outreach and customer-facing activities, schedules overview meetings to understand customer needs and use cases for the technology, hosts webinars, helps with branding and marketing assets, and works with multiple business teams to develop content, graphics, and storyboards for customer success. With that short introduction on our two guests, let's dive in!
MH: How accessible is this technology to the average American?
- JS: Augmented reality is more accessible, as mobile phones and tablet devices are commonly available with most individuals. Virtual reality is reasonably accessible and mainly used for gaming at the moment. Mixed reality has a limited accessibility due to its high price point.
MH: Which technology is most popular right now and do you think it will stay that way?
- JS: VR is more popular, and I predict that AR will become much more popular in the future.
- DS: AR is most popular in a basic version like what you will see in apps like Snapchat. Because of smartphones, anyone can participate in AR, but just because AR is currently the most popular doesn't mean it's the best experience. In my opinion, VR is the best experience and will become more popular as the price of headsets decreases. When immersed in an animated environment, VR technology "tricks" the brain into thinking you are in a real environment using real movements. AR is more of a brief moment of entertainment without tricking your brain in the same way.
MH: What if someone doesn't have a headset? Can they still participate?
- JS: From a VR context, there are a few affordable headsets available. Most of the smart devices likes mobile devices support AR.
- DS: Anyone can participate with a smartphone. There are many free apps to download (including our own app, TotalAR) on a mobile device and experience AR content. To participate in VR, at minimum, the user will need a headset. The Facebook-owned company Oculus is the industry leader in consumer headsets since they have been trying to mesh Facebook with VR content. They also have a deep understanding of the market, reducing the cost of Quest ($600) to less than $300 for a Quest2 headset to provide increased market accessibility. The experience in a Quest2 is extremely high-quality for gaming and experiences like XR Guru, our immersive learning hub. As other manufacturers see the success of Oculus's strategy with Quest2, they will likely begin creating new headsets at lower price points to compete.
MH: How do I choose the right headset?
- JS: You can choose the right headset based on factors like usability, pricing, accessibility, support, and advanced features. In the current market, Oculus' Quest2 is the leading headset that has the best features at the best price.
- DS: The right headset all depends on your intended use. If you like gaming, then Oculus Quest2, Playstation VR, or HTC Vive are good choices. For education, Lenovo and Pico are aggressively expanding into the market to provide schools with low-cost options for VR. Most headsets come with access to an app store where the user can install both free and paid apps. Most apps are gaming or collaboration tools, but there is certainly growing interest in having educational and other content in app stores.
- For businesses incorporating VR into operations and training, a wireless, untethered headset is likely the best option. A company can hire a VR content developer (like HoloPundits) to create custom experiences and applications and install this custom content into any headset for business use. If the business wants their custom app available to consumers on an app store, they must consider the barriers and hurdles to submitting an application to each app store.
MH: What are the pros and cons of different brands?
- JS: Pros include having a wide variety of multiple options to pick the best device based on your needs. Cons include that each brand has its own store through which users can search for and downloads apps as opposed to one universal app store. Also, every headset manufacturer has their own SDK(Software Development Kit)-it would be great if in the future, we could make all applications compatible with all headsets.
MH: Are there any lasting physical effects to using this technology?
- DS: Some people experience short-term motion sickness or dizziness. In some cases, the user can adjust the headset to reduce the dizziness. Users who are not aware of their physical surroundings may injure themselves by running into or hitting an object. Since a VR headset uses wi-fi, the long-term risks are the same as any other wi-fi enabled device.
MH: What can be done to reduce resistance towards this technology?
- DS: A company interested in VR technology needs to try it first-hand. Several VR services providers, like HoloPundits, will ship you a sample kit so you can experience a VR headset and pertinent applications.
MH: Do you think this is a fad technology?
- DS: VR has been around for decades. Now that multiple companies are competing to manufacture headsets to capture the growing market, the hardware and software costs will decrease. Alongside increased business adoption is a highly concerted effort in school penetration. I believe schools are in a similar place with VR as they were three to five years prior to the saturation of Chromebook.
MH: What are your target demographics, and how are you looking to expand them?
- DS: HoloPundits is focused on education and training. For schools, we have nearly 300 science topics in VR/AR. For corporate training, we are looking to expand in any industry that needs assistance in showing prospective employees what the job looks and feels like. We also want to expand into developing corporate onboarding and training in VR. This includes developing custom applications for trainees to understand their jobs without being in dangerous or expensive scenarios.
MH: What do you think is the capacity of this market?
DS: The market is growing. The global AR/VR industry is expected to grow by seven times in the next three years. The industry includes device manufacturing, distribution and logistics, development services, and application consumption. This blog article provides some insight into this growth: https://techjury.net/blog/virtual-reality-statistics/#gref.
- Consumer spending is expected to grow in VR as well. The 2016 consumer market of $6B is on track to reach $20B in 2022. Businesses are accelerating their VR technology adoption plans by six years, forcing VR headset manufacturers to divide their focus from end-user gamers to business users.
MH: At which point should a company enter the market?
- JS: There is no need to wait to enter the market: companies can get started exploring proof of concept (POC) and return on investment (ROI), along with additional benefits they may experience after electing to use this technology.
- DS: Many companies hesitate to enter the market because there is a preconceived notion that application proof of concept development is cost prohibitive - upwards of $150,000. However, service providers can help develop a prototype or POC for as little as $5,000. There is a wide range of experiences a company can create for internal use. The cost of development will depend on the complexity, detail, and length (run time) of the experience. It is possible to spend $150,000 or more on an application. However, most companies are starting with quality experiences at $5,000 to $20,000.
MH: What factors impede the growth of this industry?
- DS: Content development is the biggest obstacle. As the market and demand grows, the need for content developers and programmers increases. A smart career move for interested people is to learn to create 3D models and animations in programs like Unity. Alternatively, VR companies are trying to develop easy ways for non-programmers to create their own VR content using easy-to-use tools.