Why the Oculus Rift gained’t go the best way of Google Glass
Crunch Community Contributor
Eric Rachlin is co-founder and vice chairman of product design at Physique Labs.
Crunch Community Contributor
Jon Cilley is the chief evangelist at Physique Labs.
On a current episode of our podcast we spoke concerning the VR business with Matt Hartman, director of seed investments at Betaworks. When evaluating VR corporations, Hartman appears for whether or not the corporate is delivering a “10X expertise.”
Finally, are you able to ship 10 occasions the worth of comparable choices together with your answer? For VR corporations, the imaginative and prescient of their given answer is probably not flawed, however is the know-how, value and timing proper for shoppers?
“Uber might have existed a decade in the past, however you’d have needed to textual content in your latitude and longitude coordinates,” says Hartman. “The difficulty in figuring that out was a a lot greater problem than simply elevating your hand and hailing a cab.”
Delivering worth at scale would be the largest problem early VR hardware might face. We’ve seen this earlier than with different merchandise, resembling Google Glass. On June 27, 2012, Google’s Challenge Glass was at peak hype ranges. Builders, shoppers and companies have been infatuated with the infinite prospects introduced by Glass. It was on today, on the climax of the Glass phenomena, the place one of many extra awesomely over-the-prime demos ever carried out occurred at Google I/O (their annual developer convention). Throughout this demo, Sergey Brin narrated a reside coordinated skydiving and BMX showcase into the convention corridor of the keynote to rousing applause.
After the convention, the hype lasted one other yr, till April 15, 2013. This was when, for $1,500, Google began delivering prototypes to qualifying individuals as a part of their Glass Explorer program. It was at this second that the hype ended and actuality kicked in. Glass might have modified the dialog about head-mounted shows, and certain paved the best way for shopper augmented actuality, however all this got here at a price. Glass was too costly for the mass shopper, had a restricted ecosystem and developed a unfavourable public notion — the delivery of the “glasshole.”
Finally, Glass nonetheless might have a promising future, however its preliminary failure could be a important lesson for the VR business and, extra particularly, the widespread adoption of premium VR headsets reminiscent of Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
Just like VR now, Glass had robust early hype, however did not ship important use instances that might have made it essential to our on a regular basis lives.
VR could also be in an identical inflection level. Nevertheless, there’s one strategy that would make VR extra extensively adopted as a result of it may be launched by means of one thing you already personal — your smartphone. VR might use this as a bridge to wider adoption — one thing Glass did not do. Within the brief time period, Oculus and others ought to double-down on cellular-powered VR experiences to succeed in a bigger viewers and ship a 10X expertise.
You don’t have to refinance your property to expertise VR
At $1,500, Google Glass was too pricey for the typical shopper. Premium VR headsets, like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, may be simply as costly as, if no more than, Google Glass. To pre-order an Oculus Rift, there’s an upfront value of $600-$800. Nevertheless, what’s not marketed is the price of buying a brand new gaming desktop (or graphics card) that you simply’ll possible have to push all these pixels.
When contemplating Rift, there’s additionally the extra value of buying the Oculus Contact controllers once they arrive (Rift at present makes use of an Xbox controller). If you take all this under consideration, plus the value of buying further content material, many can anticipate to pay upwards of $2,800 simply to get began.
Against this, Samsung’s Gear VR — powered by a Galaxy smartphone and an Oculus app — is just $one hundred. Google Cardboard — powered by a broader choice of smartphones — is just $15 ($29 for the Mattel View-Grasp VR). And in contrast to the Rift or Vive, which requires a further funding of a $2,000 gaming PC, cellular VR leverages one thing most shoppers already personal — a smartphone.
Right here’s one response to the Oculus Rift worth:
These decrease-tier, decrease-value options current an enormous market penetration alternative for each premium VR producers and the general VR business, the sort of alternative that Google Glass lacked throughout its introduction. To capitalize on VR’s accessibility via smartphones, Oculus is sensible to play in each camps, and will proceed to increase its partnership with Samsung and others to proceed to make their cellular VR experiences shine.
It may possibly go viral although a medium we use on a regular basis
Not solely was Google Glass tasked with the problem of introducing shoppers to a brand new concept, however it additionally needed to persuade shoppers to purchase new unproven hardware. This circumstance created a excessive barrier to entry for shoppers and considerably decreased the chance of it going viral. VR, then again, is being launched by way of a medium that’s turn into ubiquitous in our on a regular basis lives.
With the Gear VR or Cardboard, smartphones can double as VR platforms which are all the time with us. And since these units by default are cellular and extensively accessible, this will increase the chance of shoppers sharing related apps, advocating by means of phrase-of-mouth and wholly embracing these experiences.
“App distribution [for the Rift or Vive] might look just like iPad-solely apps,” stated Hartman. “When you’re solely taking a look at your iPad as soon as each night or as soon as each different night it begins to scale back the power for these apps to go viral. Equally, the probabilities of you downloading an app if you find yourself in ‘VR mode’ are a lot decrease than simply downloading an app for an expertise powered by a smartphone.”
Price of innovation and product refresh cycle
Typical shoppers buy new computer systems each three years, recreation consoles each 5 and new televisions each seven. In the event you’ve simply dropped $1,500 on a primary-era Google Glass, how shortly will you improve? In all probability not for a minimum of a number of years. And whereas the identical could be stated a few new Rift or Vive, VR has a champion with a a lot faster product refresh cycle.
Smartphones refresh each 18 months. Which means the propensity for Gear VR or Cardboard to shortly iterate and attain a broader viewers over a shorter time period is extra possible. This finally will propel all the business to new heights and pave the best way for premium gamers like Oculus.
Challenge Tango is a recreation changer
Google Glass apart, there are different challenges distinctive to premium VR headsets. Certainly one of them is definitely monitoring your motion. With Rift or Vive, that is accomplished with an “outdoors in” strategy, which makes use of separate laser towers to trace your motion. The choice is an “inside out” strategy, the place the headset makes use of sensors constructed into the gadget to see and monitor the world round you.
This summer time, units like Lenovo’s upcoming Google Challenge Tango smartphone — which accommodates a depth sensor that may measure the space of objects — will use an “inside out” strategy to assist resolve issues like occlusion and navigation for Cardboard-like headsets. This permits future smartphones to do quite a lot of intelligent issues, similar to navigating indoor environments or changing your own home right into a digital degree inside which you’ll be able to roam freely.
With out query, VR will ship recreation-altering experiences properly past gaming. Crucial factor, nevertheless, is to make sure that sufficient obstacles are damaged right down to justify them. This is the reason, within the brief time period, smartphone-powered VR is so very important. As a result of it empowers on a regular basis shoppers to casually benefit from the magic of VR with little to no funding.
Smartphones will turn out to be the conduit that results in the widespread adoption of premium VR headsets and experiences. In consequence, it might be clever for VR corporations to take a position extra closely in cellular platforms to broaden their attain and guarantee a 10X expertise.
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