It's no secret that almost every gamer out there is looking forward to the arrival of full, home-based virtual reality (VR) systems. Immersive VR platforms have been a dream since the days of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and its holodeck systems. But what about the enterprise? Is there room for VR at the industrial level? The answer, according to a recent study from Tractica, is simple: absolutely.
The Tractica report, titled “Virtual Reality for Enterprise and Industrial Markets,” makes it clear that virtual reality in general will be a huge market. Commercial sector revenue alone will approach the $4.5 billion mark just by 2020, which is up from a comparatively meager $114 million in 2014. Driving that growth will be the revenue from the hardware involved, particularly headsets, and a host of different software from VR content itself to the tools required to create that content. Major gains are also expected from fields like virtual prototyping, training and simulation, and 3D modeling systems.
There are some major challenges, however, that need to be overcome before wide-scale acceptance of this product line can emerge properly. Price is a big concern, but reports suggest that's on the decline thanks to more competition in the field and economies of scale starting to kick in. Getting more people to actually experience VR and seeing what it can do will also be something of a challenge, as there haven't been that many commercially-available VR experiences.
Many of these challenges are either being overcome or are being prepared for, as explained by Tractica principal analyst Craig Foster. Foster offered up some comment around the issue, saying “Virtual reality will take hold first in enterprise and industrial applications that benefit from powerful and versatile visualization tools. As the technology matures and costs decline, VR will increasingly be utilized for more mainstream commercial purposes such as marketing and advertising, travel and tourism, and retail.”
Of all the phrases that could be used to describe the VR market as it is today and likely will be once it goes fully mainstream, “a shortage of use cases” likely won't be on the list. With just about everything from gaming to travelogues to movies to training sessions available as possibilities, VR systems will be a major part of every home and business. Essentially, any use case that today might involve a television or a computer monitor could be replaced with a VR unit, offering more possibilities than any flatscreen display could. Whether it's used as an immersive training system, used to examine three dimensional models from all sides and angles, or just used as a way to further reduce the need for business travel, there are potential advantages all around—opportunities to save on costs, opportunities to make new revenue streams, and so on.
It will likely be at least another few years before VR becomes anything like a mature market, but with some reports predicting commercially available for the Oculus Rift in the early days of 2016, we may see this market emerge sooner than expected. The impact it will have is potentially enormous, especially for the enterprise sector.
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