Thursday, November 17, 2016

"The Fuzzy Future of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality" (NVDA; FB)

This is some of what we were trying to get at in Tuesday's "NVIDIA: Don't Buy the Stock For The Autonomous Car Stuff (or virtual reality) NVDA; TSLA; IBM" but don't just take take my word for it.

From the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (if you've ever wondered what the IEEE stood for) Spectrum magazine:
Virtual reality is having a moment, but the technology is still far from mainstream. Following the release of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift in early 2016, headset sales quickly flattened once early adopters had purchased their gear. It seems the average customer isn’t as eager to pay US $600 for bulky goggles simply to peruse the rather limited catalogue of available VR content.

If more consumers can’t be persuaded of the value that VR could bring to their lives, an industry projected to breach a trillion dollars in sales by 2035 might flop. Faced with that possibility, NYC Media Lab welcomed virtual reality and augmented reality experts to Viacom last week for a daylong discussion about the future of these two budding technologies.

There was, not surprisingly, plenty of excitement about VR's potential among the crowd of creators, designers, entrepreneurs, and investors. There was also a healthy dose of realism about the state of the industry and the drawbacks of existing VR gear. “For VR to really work and succeed, it has to be so good that you want to put an ugly plastic thing on your face,” said David Liu, creative director for virtual reality at Viacom.

Though 2016 has been a breakthrough year for VR, very few people actually own a headset or are consuming VR on a regular basis. Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but recent reports suggest HTC has sold about 140,000 Vives since its launch in April 2016. For comparison, Apple sold roughly 444,000 iPhones per day in its most recent quarter.

When a panelist at the Viacom event asked the pro-VR crowd how many attendees had a headset at home, only a smattering raised a hand. Early demonstrations of AR have also struggled to find mass appeal. (Google Glass, anyone?)

Despite the slow start, insiders are more optimistic when they look ahead. Shawn Cheng, an investor with venture capital firm Vayner/RSE, said he expects VR to reach mainstream, which he defines as the point when roughly one-fourth to one-third of the population has a headset in their living room, in the last half of 2018.

On the 2016 Gartner Hype Cycle, an industry measure of technology readiness, virtual and augmented reality are expected to emerge from the “trough of disillusionment” and ascend the “slope of enlightenment” to achieve widespread adoption within five to 10 years. Meanwhile, machine learning, self-driving cars, and smart robots remain huddled around the “peak of inflated expectations.”

At the New York City event, content developers, tech investors, media executives, and entrepreneurs focused on expanding the amount of VR content available to customers while still delivering a high-quality experience that will convert first-time users into devoted fans.

Already, several experts said, too many VR startups and developers are putting out shoddy or nauseating demos, thereby shooting themselves—and potentially the whole industry—in the foot. Customers turned off by those demos may never return, leaving VR to go the way of 3-D TV.....MORE
See also Motherboard's Nov. 16 piece:
This Is What People Thought VR Would Look Like in 1990