While the future of virtual reality continues to be a bit uncertain, most of the industry believes it could be the next big thing in tech and communications. Among firm believers in the relatively new trend is HTC, a company that has shown great interest in VR and even created on of the most popular headsets in existence – the HTC Vive.
HTC Program Manager of EMEA Virtual Reality Graham Breen has taken the stage at a London event. He didn’t give us any news on plans or products, but ended up telling us why the Taiwanese manufacturer has high hopes of VR proliferation. In fact, he goes as far as saying this tech is the “next mass medium”.
“VR is the next mass medium. One of my biggest learnings over the past year is that VR is an incredible social experience. Mixed reality is a way of conveying that experience.” -Graham Breen, HTC Program Manager EMEA Virtual Reality
We can understand why he would believe this. VR has plenty of applications and useful scenarios. It is currently used for making art, experiencing media from a first-person perspective, seeing remote locations, playing video games and even watching porn.
We can’t deny HTC has given us something to think about with this comment, though. Saying VR is the next mass medium is a strong argument. Can it really reach mass consumption levels? We suppose it depends on how you define “mass medium”. We certainly believe it can reach a massive amount of people in the near future, especially considering how mobile VR is becoming more and more common. Things like Google Cardboard and 360-degree content support on smartphones will take us a long way, because these involve products most people already have or can purchase with very little money.
We believe there will be two types of VR/AR users – the casual and the hard-core ones. Regular users will be those using their normal devices for 360-degree content, light games and cool tours around the Everest. The heavier users will have something like the HTC Vive, a mostly stationary device that needs much more power (not to mention space in your home) and can handle complex apps like heavy duty games.
Would you really want to go find your HTC Vive, hook it up and strap on the headset just to take a look at a cool VR clip on YouTube? Definitely not. That level of VR will be saved for the times when you really want to get into the experience. For casual things you will be using your regular mobile devices. That is the type of VR that could really hit the mass markets.
And it seems HTC would agree with us, as they have started working on a mobile solution already. Will all of us have something like the HTC Vive at home in the coming years? I find it very unlikely, but I think we could start using VR/AR in a much more common basis as content keeps coming up. But we also believe it will continue to be a secondary addition… more of a cool feature or improvement over regular 2D content, as opposed to a genre of its own. This is simply because you have to take convenience into account. You won’t always want to have VR or AR on.
Let’s take Pokemon Go as an example. Looking around for Pokemon in the real world is fun, but do you want to be moving your phone all around you while riding the bus or waiting at a lobby? Probably not, and that is why you turn of augmented reality during those times.
But tell us what you think! Will AR become a mass medium we could adopt as a beast of its own? Will it continue to be a secondary feature we can take advantage of when convenient? Maybe you think VR is a total flop that will eventually wither away. Regardless, we would love to hear if you agree with HTC or not.