In short… no… but we are getting closer. Don’t get me wrong… my team has been building VR apps since you were a baby, but the truth is, only early adopters are willing to wear the clunky headsets. Samsung finally learned this lesson and shut down their Gear VR headset group in 2021. Officially, they said that they are “rethinking their immersive video distribution method, especially given that Gear VR is no longer available.”
end beginning is near.
Today’s VR headsets are “VR 3.0”. VR 1.0 (1984) was built by hearty pioneers and millions of dollars of DARPA contracts. Yes, they had headsets, but they were only ever used by a handful of people.
The VR 2.0 (1995) people (myself included) wanted to bring VR to the masses and they believed that the web and a desktop computer were the ideal medium for this. They even banded together and created an open standard for web based VR, called VRML, and made plugins that worked with the major web browsers of the day. This was all great until the major backers (Netscape, SGI and Microsoft) packed their bags in search of shinier objects to promote.
VR 3.0 began with the Oculus Rift in 2012. This may have gone unnoticed except that Facebook bought the small company for a very large sum. Overnight, VR was all the rage and shows like AWE (Augmented World Expo) filled their tent with shiny new exhibitors chanting “build it and they will come”. Mostly, they did not come. In fact, most of the money made went to the porn industry.
Why I believe that VR will finally succeed in 2022
Sometimes, the bones of technology pioneers need to be stacked up for several generations of development before the tech is finally ready for a broad audience. I saw a glimmer of hope, in 2020, with the announcement of the nReal AR glasses… finally arriving in the US in 2021 for about $500. Compared to the clunky headsets, these glasses are fabulous. Compared to what consumers need, they are just a tech preview.
What they got right is excellent resolution and light weight. I can actually watch a full movie with these on. Where they fail a consumer is with the cable… attached to your Android phone (sorry Apple fans) and the small number of compelling apps.
Okay, so who will take the ball over the goal line? Apple. The team in Cupertino has been sharpening their knives for a long time preparing to claim the XR market (the industry term for both AR and VR) for their own. June 7th, 2022, they will begin to lay out their game plan for us during their yearly developer conference. Many XR startups will pivot or die this summer. Apple plan’s to collect your credit card number in time for Christmas.
Will they succeed? Yes… kind of. They have a lot tied up in this but it looks like what they will ship this year is essentially a developers model with the good, consumer level stuff coming in 2025. Where they will succeed is in showing you excellent apps, exciting demos and compelling TV ads. Like all Apple products in recent times, it will be buggy. (My Apple speakers and ear buds still don’t work as advertised.)
If you love VR, as I do, this is excellent and long awaited news. Can Google, Amazon, Samsung and Meta keep up?
Leave a Reply