In 2017, Virtual Reality Seen on Tech Sidelines

Consumer virtual reality (VR) has failed to gain traction from investors heading into the New Year even though it might have been a buzz phrase in the tech scene for most of 2016, according to a venture capitalist.

“I think 2017 will be what we call the winter of VR … especially from an investment standpoint,” said Phil Chen, managing partner at Presence Capital, a venture capital fund that focuses on virtual reality start-ups.

Including for the likes of Sony’s PlayStation VR headset, Facebool’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, it is reasoned that most probably the part of the reason why the VR bubble has burst (for the moment). 2016 saw the retail launches of highly-anticipated VR headsets was the overexposure to the same throughout the IT spectrum.

“2016 was the peak of what consumers expected of virtual reality. But (the) figures have come out (and) whether it’s the high-end HTC Vive (and) Oculus or the mid-end PlayStation, the sales have been quite lukewarm and the experience has been underwhelming”, Chen told at a TV interview recently.

And price points are believed to by another reason for this failure. Priced at $799, $599 and $549 are the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR headsets respectively.

In addition to the varied and high pricing, to support the high-speed specifications that VR requires, top-end and highly priced PCs are required to be bought to enable plenty of VR headsets to be able to play. In addition to the high costs of the headsets as it is, these desktops can cost customers and VR lovers anywhere between $799 to more than $2,500.

“The set-up process is quite tedious … and the PC is just not as accessible as people (think),” Chen said. “I always compare virtual reality right now with the console business simply because it is still largely a gaming platform. It is far from becoming mass (market).”

On the other hand, a “compromised” experience is generally made available by the more affordable mobile VR platforms which are more accessible to users, Chen added.

“There’s this play between a lot of volume and distribution on mobile but the experience is not there, and on the high-end, you have incredible experience but … it is not readily accessible,” Chen said.

For the purpose of VR being able to succeed in the mass market, four-to-five technologies need to converge, Chen said. such technologies include opposition tracking (referring to laser positions that track the headset and head movement) availability on mobile and adjustments to the weight of VR headsets.

(Adapted from CNBC)


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