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The Virtual Reality Sector Grows for Consumers and Businesses

Carl Weinschenk

The good news for the virtual reality (VR) industry is that a newly released study says that the percentage of broadband homes in the United States that plan to buy a VR headset within the next year has nearly doubled since early last year. The middling news is that the percentage is still in single figures.

Parks Associates found that 5 percent had such plans in 2016 and 9 percent do today. That isn’t totally bad news because VR is a long-term play and, in this case, the percentage growth may be more important than the raw numbers.

The biggest issue at this point is the relatively low level of consumer awareness. That clearly is changing. In addition, according to commentary in the release, there is considerable hardware fragmentation. This presumably will shake out and other advances will lead to continuous growth, Parks suggests. The top two devices are from Samsung and Sony.


The wall between consumer and vocational electronics largely doesn’t exist today. The rise of bring your own device (BYOD) work structures was the first and to date most definitive sign of the change. Other technologies, including tablets and wearables, are also doing double duty. VR fits squarely in this category as well.


VR is often paired with augmented reality (AR) financially and technically. Digi-Capital this month said that more than $800 million was invested in AR/VR during the second quarter of the year. The first quarter, the post says, was “quieter.” For the year starting in the third quarter of 2016, more than $2 billion was invested across 27 sectors, the post said.

The post was based on a 167-page study of the sector by the company. The investments straddled work and entertainment sectors:

Around $1 of every $10 was divided between solutions/services, education, social, advertising/marketing, navigation, location based, and eCommerce. The rest was spread across the smaller investment sectors of art/design, entertainment, business, lifestyle, music, enterprise/B2B, utilities, news, medical, sports, photo and distribution.

Volkswagen provides a good example of businesses taking advantage of VR. The company announced at the Digility conference in Cologne that it is working with Innoactive, a startup, to deploy HTC VIVE VR technology. The platform is being rolled out across the company under the Volkswagen Digital Reality Hub umbrella. It will allow, for instance, participants in different locations to meet in online conferences.

Though it does not say so directly, the description paints a picture of the automaker’s VR platform as the next stage in conferencing. Instead of attending in a local room from which participants elsewhere can be seen, the VR platform makes it seem as if the dispersed coworkers are actually in the same place.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

 


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