The Critical Mass Of Virtual Reality


Image Credits: Rommel Canlas (opens in a new window) / Shutterstock (opens in a new window)

Sasa Marinkovic


Sasa Marinkovic leads virtual reality for AMD.

More posts from Sasa Marinkovic

The concept of virtual reality (VR) has been around for several decades. Largely ignored by mainstream computing until about four years ago, VR technology has leapt to computing’s center stage — largely kick-started by an investment from Facebook — and is now poised to make an industry transforming impact.

The development process for VR has been accompanied by dramatic technology advances and, sometimes, frustrating technology retreats. This erratic development rhythm has caused some to question whether or not VR is actually going to happen any time soon — and others to wonder if VR is ever going to become “real.”

With final production versions of VR hardware and software being readied for market launch, it is now clear that the market is rapidly approaching a cusp, a tipping-point of transition now occurring as VR technologies reach a critical mass of functionality, reliability, ease-of-use, affordability and availability.

2016 will be the year of VR; VR headsets and VR-capable hardware and software will be readily available to the public in 2016, and people will begin to experience VR and explore its near-endless potential.

We are already seeing evidence of this. Movie studios are partnering with VR vendors to bring content to market. News organizations are similarly working with VR companies to bring immersive experiences of news directly into the home, including live events. The stage is set for broad adoption of VR.

Virtual Reality By The Numbers

Take a quick look at the facts influencing VR. While movies and news are quickly ramping up, the PC gaming market is the epicenter of VR development. Jon Peddie Research estimates the PC gaming market will tip $21.5 billion in 2015, with close to 100 million enthusiasts and performance PC gamers alone. The number of active users on Steam has already hit a new record of 125 million. Power-user PC gamers focus on mid-to-high-end PC builds and upgrades more suitable for VR computing.

Oculus-ready PCs capable of seamless VR headset operation will likely be available. VR headsets will typically be running at high-definition 1080p resolution at 90Hz, and will require high-end graphics card for an enjoyable VR experience. The total price for the VR-capable PC with the graphics card: ~$1,000, a price that could trigger significant demand.

Another key development is the recent introduction of Windows 10. Windows 10 will make it easy to set up and have an incredible VR gaming experience. Microsoft’s free upgrade program has been extremely successful, with Windows 10 installed on more than 110 million devices since it was released on July 29th; the company’s goal is to reach 1 billion Windows 10 devices by 2018. There are now more than 200,000 registered Oculus Developer Center users, and VR content has been announced by Microsoft (Minecraft), Netflix, 20th Century Fox, CNN and many others.

What does this tell us about VR’s prospects for 2016? It tells us VR technology is ready, the PC platform is ready and legions of content developers are creating software aimed at changing the world. But is the market ready for VR?

The VR Adoption “Bell Curve”

Customer acceptance and adoption of VR technology will likely resemble the “bell curve” describing many other technology rollouts, with a tiny percentage of early enthusiasts, the “early adopters,” growing into a massive swell of mainstream adoption. The real question involves the rate and pace of VR market adoption.

Answering this question requires polishing your crystal ball, but we can speculate. It’s likely that VR adoption will be largely governed by how quickly new technology and devices will be — or can be — manufactured. It’s also likely that the demand for new VR technologies will exceed the available supply in 2016.

Other factors affecting the rate and pace of VR adoption include the availability of VR software and VR-capable content. The good news: Many mainstream computing devices will be VR-ready, and the momentum of VR software development and content generation will accelerate in 2016. In short, VR has moved into the realm of market reality, and the only speculation at this point is — how quickly?

The Best Is Yet To Come

Virtual reality is here — and ready for prime time. The enormous potential of VR has created immense excitement in the computer industry, and computer hardware, software, gaming and entertainment vendors and manufacturers are devoting tremendous resources to be at the forefront of VR development.

Combining the visual fidelity of today’s feature films with the interactivity of video games, VR is creating a new medium of interactive experience. Like radio, TV and personal computers, VR offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to radically change how we interact with information, content and entertainment.

Virtual reality technology and the PC platform are launch-ready for 2016. Does this mean that today’s VR technology delivers its full potential now? Of course not. Hardware and software developers will continue perfecting VR technology for years to come. Just like previous communications and information technologies, VR will evolve to provide ever-greater performance and capabilities and undreamed-of new experiences. The best is yet to come.

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

13 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

15 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android