It’s surprising how Covid-19 has graduated from a health hazard in Wuhan, China, to a global pandemic affecting every public sector in almost every nation in the world. Typically, what keeps people thriving is being in proper health and having a friendly external environment. With both being fully compromised by the illness and the life of all humans being threatened, everything swings on balance with a possibility of falling both sides.
Superpowers like the United States are no longer boasting with breath-taking technological or economic achievements, and Giant companies are no longer storming the news headlines with new product releases. Plans laid down in the previous decade are no longer prioritised. However, cut-throat the crisis might seem, there is still a ray of hope and new dawn shining for technology advancement as well as the health sector as nations spend billions on protecting the human race.
How will the world of Virtual Reality be affected?
Despite the negative impacts by COVID-19 being more than positive, we can still say some companies or business in certain industrial lines are reaping some benefits out of this. According to the authorities, some of the essential human needs are food, water, clothing and medical supplies. Any business related to these needs is still thriving while the rest are being locked down. Now, the big question is; what is the future of AR/VR regarding the COVID-19 crisis? How is AR/VR affected? What are the changes and advancement made to VR/AR to change people’s lives during these times? Read on to learn more about Virtual reality and Augmented Reality in relation to Covid-19.
Will a new door open for VR and AR?
For many years, Giant companies like Apple, Google and Facebook have invested a great deal of money in billion dollars, in a vision to see to it that VR and AR will go mainstream. Some of the CEO’s of these companies like —-Cook of Apple have been personally advertising and telling people about the bright future laid before Virtual reality and Augmented Reality. However, the efforts to make AR/VR mainstream have not always been well paying in the past despite all the dedication and effort however this has changed in more recent years as companies like Facebook have introduced products like the Oculus Go and Oculus Quest at affordable prices and without the need for a high end PC or graphics card. Sony already has the PS4 VR and hundreds of millions of PS4 owners as a marketbase and HTC have several VR headsets and their own virtual library of applications and games available for about the same price as a Netflix subscription. Microsoft already has a bunch of mixed reality headsets made by companies such as Lenovo, Acer, Samsung and more along with their own Hololens. So clearly big tech companies are behind the advancement of VR and AI. But, does COVID-19 open a new door to the future of this technology? Is it possible that AR/VR can utilise the gaps left in the society for its good as well as that of the people? Let’s find out.
Can VR really go mainstream in a big way?
Any success in business is entirely attributed to identifying a gap in the market and having enough resources to exploit it. With the self-imposed isolations, business lockdowns, social distancing and other negative and positive outcomes brought by Covid-19, many market gaps pop up. If the AR/VR technology well exploits them can be a one-time gateway to going mainstream with much ease. This doesn’t mean that COVID-19 hasn’t affected AR/VR negatively. In ways that I will discuss below, you will see crystal clear how either negatively or positively the present and future of AR/VR is affected by the pandemic.
Positives & Negatives Outlying the Future of VR due to COVID-19
- Cost. During these times, budgeting is as tricky as predicting the future. There are no exact figures which can be set to curb the needs that the disease raises now and then. Production of goods is a problem, and the cost of raw materials have hiked. To make AR/VR gadgets, you need some materials which are becoming expensive due to scarcity. Without them, progress in terms of producing more HoloLens, for instance, is a big challenge. This makes the cost of production high, hence the high market price. You may not find as many people interested in expensive gadgets. People may want affordable headsets such as the Oculus Go or Oculus Quest with advanced hardware and supportive apps.
- Use-case is nearly as specialized as gaming.Not everyone is familiar with AR/VR technology; mostly those who are into gaming because this is where AR/VR developers have been concentrating on largely. If there is to be a future for AR/VR, developers have to diversify the user-case from only gaming to other activities that fulfil human wants during the crisis. We are already seeing this with a large number of apps ranging from education, science and entertainment. VR and AR has practical applications in the real world in these fields so the push to make VR/AR more accessible and multi-faceted is an important one for its growth.
- Physical lockdowns. Lockdowns have become a norm in almost every part of the globe. However, it’s like humans to crave connection with other humans and spend time together. If AR/VR can find a way to make this possible, it will mean success and prevail to them. Some businesses are taking advantage of mobile AR advertisement programs, but they have to advertise essential commodities for them to have the authority to deliver to consumers. Entertainment platforms such as Netflix have grown rapidly in subscriber numbers and time spent watching. So as people spend more time indoors then the popularity of VR may also see increased users and more time spent with a VR headset wrapped around your head.
- Retail stores apocalypse. Countless retail shops and stores are being closed down due to the danger imposed by Covid-19. Customers are avoiding crowded places like markets forcing businesses to close down. However, this can change if retail shops start using AV/VR technology while doing their shopping. A customer can be able to quickly locate the items they want, see all the features in it and go for exactly that product without having to go through the entire store touching other products or surfaces. If VR/AR can provide high customer engagement and create a personalized shopping experience during this crisis, people will love it. However, many location-based VR businesses have closed their doors for now. Online shoppers in many parts of the world can still have VR headsets shipped to their home without the need to go outside to buy one and the great thing is once you own a VR headset then you can buy apps or games online with absolute ease.
Overall we see a future in which Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and AI can not only cure people of their boredom but one in which these technologies can play a huge role in the fields of education, science and human development. The opportunity for us to learn and be educated in real world environments without the need to be physically present anywhere other than our own homes is a practical one in these times and will grow so in the future. The world of health and science can benefit also as nurses and doctors can train in real life scenarios without the risk of injuring patients and as we have discussed the potential for all types of applications and uses are wide for technology and will only grow more so in the future.