This Is Virtual Reality’s Biggest Problem

July 7, 2016

9:45 am

Virtual reality is fast becoming one of the most popular emerging niches in tech. As so many prominent tech companies have taken to exploring this niche, it’s possible that the niche’s popularity can continue to grow. However, an unsuspecting problem could prevent that.

So, what exactly is virtual reality struggling to master? Its customer appeal. Though it has been successful with captivating the attention of industry leaders, there’s still a question of whether virtual reality will be able to capture the attention and needs of consumers.

Virtual Reality’s Biggest Challenge

The last few years have been monumental in the exponential interest of virtual reality. From Samsung’s Gear VR to the HTC Vive, products have been flooding the market that have the potential to appeal to the consumer market. But even so, virtual reality appears to still be at a standstill – in a space between industry popularity and consumer acceptance, can the niche still appeal to consumers?

In a Medium post exploring how virtual reality can find the missing link to appeal to consumers, writer Jordan Harper explores four things the industry should keep in mind: be sure to try it yourself; ask hard questions; talk to outsiders; and do the math.

He writes:

“The Big Question for VR right now is: is it worth it? It’s definitely cool, it’s occasionally fun, but is it sufficiently cooler than regular video games or content formats that it’s worth spending hundreds of extra dollars/pounds on?… While occasionally made more immersive, gaming is not likely to be greatly improved by being broadcast in VR — the user experience is actually inferior and more frustrating because, as we more closely replicate real life, we more acutely show the flaws in our replication. It’s an uncanny valley for user experience.”

When it comes to virtual reality, the user experience needs to be at the forefront of this niche. It’s not enough to have these innovations be one-sided; companies need to explore how the VR experience will benefit consumers and take what they already know about other augmented reality-centered fields (like 3-D).

If users don’t understand how this shift will benefit them beyond entertainment value but this can also be used to the industry’s benefit. VR does have a rightful place within tech, as long as the industry can understand this connection and use it to better appeal to user needs. Without that, VR may be in danger of failing before it even begins.

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Cameron is a tech and culture journalist, comic book enthusiast, and lives near New York City. A graduate of Stockton University, she's using her words to shift the world of online journalism, one byline at a time. When she's not writing, she can be found reading sci-fi novels, collecting succulents, and planning her next obnoxious hair color. Cameron is an editorial fellow at Tech.Co. Send your tips to cameron@tech.co or tweet @BlkGirlManifest.

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