Understand the current limitations of Virtual Reality-based experiences while planning ahead for mass adoptions when creating your long term VR roadmap.
Like most new technologies, it can take up to 10 years or more before mass adoption occurs. Things such as form factor, price, and cultural perception all influence the market penetration of the new tech. For example, mobile phones were introduced in the mid 80s, but only saw mass adoption at the turn of the century. Even then, a large app ecosystem didn’t exist. It took another seven years before mass adoption of apps occurred. However, mobile devices had to offer simplistic UI and easy online portals to acquire content for a sustainable developer ecosystem to emerge.
Like early mobile phones, VR Headsets will continue to evolve from where they are today. While they offer immersive experiences, they are fairly limited in their mobility and cultural perception. Once the headset is on, consumer perception is that the user is disconnected from reality, which can affect the people around you. Understanding the ‘solo’ nature of current headsets is critical to delivering compelling software based on an ‘at-home’ environment.
As mentioned before, the current ‘closed’ nature of VR headsets limits the experiences developers can deliver. The current console gaming market is a key target for VR, as those users already engage in ‘solo’ style gaming with strong online social features. As such, VR will enable an enhanced experience vs. non-VR gaming products which will attract console gaming consumers. Think of them as early adopters that can be targeted as a first step in VR mass adoption. Use them as free marketing J
Samsung is investing heavily in VR not only to evolve their mobile product offerings, but also to enhance IoT offerings. As such, leveraging our strong developer support community and opportunities will help offset the costs of tackling this new technology alone.
However, over time VR headsets will evolve, much as mobile phones did. They will improve in form factor, price, features and, ultimately, their ‘coolness’ factor. Headsets will become smaller, perhaps so small that they look like regular prescription glasses. As they become more stylish, cultural perception of their ‘coolness’ will encourage more people to wear them outdoors, paving the way for increased market adoption.
Invest in the Future by Succeeding Today
Balancing current limitations against future advancements in VR is critical to helping align user adoption with VR advancements. Slowly creating a need for VR experiences helps mass adoption due to the average Joe’s lack of technical experience and knowledge.
The first step when planning current app features is to understand the ‘solo’ nature of current offerings while also considering the non-mobile environment they offer. The solo nature of current headsets is in part due to the closed nature of the headsets. They do not offer the headset wearer an easy view of their current surroundings. However, through the internet they can interact with other users and virtual worlds. The social nature of the headsets relies heavily on a strong VR community delivering connected experiences.
Secondly, the non-mobile nature is an extension of the ‘solo’ nature of the headset in that it is closed. Since users cannot see their current surroundings easily, they are unable to experience VR while walking around. Perhaps when the VR headset form factor delivers a prescription glass style look, developers can create true mobile VR experiences. Until then, focus on delivering non-mobile experiences by understanding that your user will most likely be immobile in their living room (or man cave).
Imagine the Future
No new technology gets it right the first time. This is due to lack of designer experience with the product, as there are minimal legacy products to reference. Furthermore, their designs will be based on current hardware and environmental limitations. As designers, developers and users experience current VR offerings, inspiration for new ideas and methods of interaction will be discovered. Aim to bridge the gap between human and machine by making the machine accommodate human interaction instead of the other way around, where humans have to step down to the machine mode of interaction (in this case, a controller or PUI button).
As VR headsets become more elegant and graceful in appearance while offering a natural method of interaction, much like the introduction of touch to mobiles vs. legacy button devices, increased user adoption will occur.
Samsung is doing a lot to improve user experience design interaction, incorporating both robust design principles and an array of sensory inputs that will make bulky headsets a thing of the past. Come re-imagine and re-pave the future of VR by partnering with Samsung.