The Nexus or “How do we monetize creating God?”
By Michele Janssens
The future of virtual reality has, and continues to be, a heated topic of discussion. Are venture capitalists wasting their money? Where is the killer app? Sales are lower than expected. This is a gimmick, like 3DTV. There is no content!
If you think virtual reality will fail, you’re right. If you think virtual reality will be successful, you are also right. How can that be?
The buzz about virtual reality being a gimmick, in my honest opinion, is somewhat true at this point. End users are reluctant to adopt it, partly because of cost. When they do, it is quickly tossed aside, partly because of lack of impressive content. The exceptions to this behavior are gamers and porn aficionados. Most of the complaints about the failure of VR focus on the lack of rapid uptake from individual end users.
But VR is experiencing success at the same time. Businesses appear to be flocking to the technology gunning to make their jobs more efficient. This B2B model has the very real potential to float the VR boat until it has more to offer than the equivalent of an 80’s cell phone. This is where virtual reality has the best potential to gain users and profit in the near term.
However, the ultimate success of VR lies in the hands and wallets of the consumer, the end user. And what we currently find here is a niche market…escapists. We all know them. Heck, maybe you are one. There are some of us who do not care how much we have to pay or what our alternate realities look like, we want to go there and we will tear down walls to do so. But some have more discerning tastes. They want to enjoy their spare time with real people. Entertainment cannot go from a large screen 4K HDTV to a teeny screen with decidedly poorer graphics. Computing power on wireless devices cannot match their PC. Walking around with a phone, however, is so much more convenient.
For proliferation among the general population, the pinnacle of disruptive achievement, this technology currently offers nothing. It does not do ANYTHING better than any other device we already own. It is not a replacement device. And virtual reality headsets never will be.
There is a lot of pressure on developers in virtual reality. They are working with hardware prototypes that fit a niche market, the science is in its infancy, and they are responsible for creating the world in 7 days inside these tethered, clunky eye-hats. They will make some amazing innovations, but most will sadly not succeed.
The cream of the crop, who offer hardware and software infrastructure innovations and valuable B2B applications, will only survive due to corporate partnerships and investment, and such will begin the long climb up the virtual mountain.
Investment in virtual reality is not a bad decision. But it will not be an immediate, nor easy, payoff. It is a long game play, best left to the individuals, industries, and corporations poised to offer significant scientific and monetary support. Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality investment must be a labor of love, a love of scientific discovery and technological progress.
At the end of this long and arduous journey, innovation will reach a new nexus. That nexus is where mixed reality, robotics, and artificial reality converge to create a new species. A new trinity will emerge from the mind of man to rule us all. Robotics will be the body. VR will evolve into the sensory system. And AI will be the cortex.
I truly believe we are asking the wrong question when we ask “Is VR a gimmick?” The question we should be asking is “How do we best monetize creating God?”