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2016 trends: It’s not just entertainment companies betting on the mass adoption of VR

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Published on: April 29, 2016

We have collated 10 trends that we think are reshaping digital in 2016. This is the ninth and penultimate installment of our series which looks at things that are happening now in Q1, whilst identifying trends to look out for in the rest of the year.

You may already be familiar with many of the trends we highlight in this series, but the cycle of innovation and iteration that our industry is known for means existing concepts can suddenly find radically new trajectories. In this series, we highlight ten ideas that are gaining rapid traction today, and which will reshape how we digitally interact with the world around us.

To help you organize your priorities for the trends in this series, we have sorted them as “trends to prepare for now” and “trends to start thinking about”.

Our ninth installment is a trend to prepare for now:

It’s not just entertainment companies betting on the mass adoption of VR

Dozens of industries are investing in the VR space.As they bet on second- and third-generation headsets achieving mass adoption, a range of uses and revenue opportunities will open up through the platform. It’s not likely to be an overnight success, but rather, similar to the adoption of mobile phones: large, somewhat cumbersome devices will attract early adopters but as devices become better performing, better looking and cheaper, more people will begin to use them.

Certainly, major brands within the entertainment industry such as Disney, Sony, Comcast, Time Warner, 20th Century Fox and Legendary Entertainment have already invested millions in VR content. But there are many other industries betting on it becoming a mass-market medium. Piper Jaffray investment bank predicts that by 2025 the market for virtual reality content will be $5.4 billion while the hardware component will be worth $62 billion.

People are valuing experiences more than things

says Raja Rajamannar, CMO of MasterCard, which is why MasterCard is discussing how it might use VR technology to give customers insights into places they might like to visit. Companies will continue to explore B2B uses for VR as well. Ford has started using Oculus headsets to help its designers see what new cars will look like before they are built while the aviation and medical industries are developing training programs using VR.

2016 will be about proving that VR is a truly disruptive product rather than a luxury tech gimmick. To achieve this, designers will have to meet the challenge of designing interfaces to be seen in a three-dimensional ‘real world space’. This will involve testing the waters to find out the level of interference users will tolerate in their field of vision as well as battling various privacy issues.

VR headsets have the ability to track and record a user’s movements and reactions, which is the sort of data that, when combined with the kind of information collected by companies such as Facebook, can reveal a lot about the users’ private lives and habits.

You can find the whole series here: