VR as a concept is decades old, started to make inroads on the PCs on the 90s, never to popularized as envisioned. Then, on this decade (2010s) a crazy guy decided to make a VR headset, which in turn got the attention of a games mogul, which in turn got the attention of Facebook and bought them for a cool 2$ billion. However, up until now, VR isn’t selling as a consumer device, maybe for industrial applications (like NASA) but that’s about it. Obviously Facebook is a consumer company, and for sure, when they bought it, it was saw as an experiment. In an untended consequence of the Facebook acquisition, many companies rushed to also deploy their VR gear, companies like Samsung, HTV/Valve, Sony, Meta and many more.
But … up until today there’s still no mass market deployment. So the question remains: Will it sell? what we mean is, will it sell enough quantities to generate a new medium, branch, category, niche? or whatever you want to call it. Will VR succeeds enough to support a market of several manufacturers? Historically that’s the way it works: It beings with many manufacturers, only to be in the end two or three of them for a certain product. Nothing new here in that regard.
So far, the only available product for VR is the Samsung gear, and that’s in limited availability. If we also consider Google’s Cardboard, then yes we know there’s a market for it, but we still don’t know how big. Besides, Cardboard is so good and cheap, that while it gives a pretty good scene about how many people are using VR, it doesn’t gives any data on how much money people are willing to spend on a VR gear. All the data that’s available are estimates, nothing more.
The Phi Centre in Montreal is doing an small -but intense- exhibition about VR. From our part, we’ve experience VR before, so we went just to continue filling out curiosity about the technology. However, while being there, this happened:
This image can be interpreted on many ways, here’s our take: These people sitting -and waiting- there, are not tech people per se, it’s a working day time frame -so a lot more interested might be working and can’t come-, they all came to try this thing called VR. The amount of people coming to the place is non stop. The place wasn’t packed, however the VR exhibitions were always being used, with people waiting in line.
Now, obviously whoever came to the exhibition, knew about the subject and obviously it was interested in it to learn more. Still, I have been to other computer exhibitions and museums and I have not seen such interest, as the one reflected here. So, there’s a good market for VR! It’s proven by this audience. We can make an educated guess that -at least- it will be a big niche, and to overcome that niche will depend on the cost of the setup itself. A VR setup will cost around 1500$, so it will not be cheap, at least initially, like happens with many new technologies. Regardless the concept of people wearing a VR device to entertain themselves is a reality, it’s not a guess, nor dream, nor speculation, nor wishful thinking.
The vedette of the exhibition was a device called Birdly. Take 5 min of your time and see what’s it all about on the video below.
The experience is amazing! For this exhibition case, the fly over was in New York. The level of detail of the city is remarkable. I didn’t felt any nausea like the one associated with VR, however I felt vertigo, which was great! That was the whole point! Only because I convinced myself that the vertigo wasn’t going to affect me, is what allowed me to enjoy the whole thing so much. Naturally, such a setup will be prohibitively expensive for consumers, nevertheless, Somniacs has a business based on VR, big or not, the Birdly is a business and for all the limitations, VR has proven that’s here to stay.