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Metaverse rises, VR/AR resurrects, new revolution or old bubble?

After VR, it is the universe.

Whether you like it or not, what should go forward will not go backward. – “Ready Player One”

When the wind of the Metaverse blows, VR/AR is alive again. In 2014, Meta (also called Facebook at the time) acquired the VR startup Oculus , which was only established for 2 years, for US$3 billion , triggering a market boom; around 2018, due to the bottleneck of technology and the lack of high-quality content, VR/AR was delayed. Unable to find a suitable business landing direction, I encountered a “fever”. Now that Meta is once again leading the show, VR/AR has taken the business imagination to a higher level in the context of the grand narrative of the Metaverse. 

Source: B&H 

According to a report by IDC, in 2021, global VR/AR headset shipments will reach 11.2 million units, a year-on-year surge of 92.1%. It is predicted that this number will still increase by 46.9% in 2022; in the next few years, VR/AR shipments will maintain a high-speed double-digit growth and exceed 50 million units in 2026. Zuckerberg once said in the release of the Oculus VR headset that when active users cross the threshold of 10 million, VR/AR content and ecology will usher in explosive growth. Now it seems that the moment of qualitative change has come.

The recovery is also reflected in the capital market. According to Crunchbase statistics, in the past year, nearly 3.9 billion U.S. dollars of funds flowed to VR/AR startups, the second-highest investment in history. All-time high. 

Source: Crunchbase News 

01 Major manufacturers frequently take action to seize the next-generation intelligent platform

Looking back on the past, the emergence of smart phones has led to the arrival of the entire mobile Internet era. The richness of content and interactive forms carried by smartphones exceeds that of media such as PC and TV in the past, which has caused a huge impact on traditional media and brought a subversive impact on all aspects of society.

Today, it has been 14 years since the release of the first-generation iPhone. Smartphones are stuck in bottlenecks in terms of functionality and experience, shipments continue to decline, and the market tends to be saturated. Many believe that VR/AR will be the next super medium and VR/AR devices will be the next smart platform after smartphones. Therefore, it is understandable that big manufacturers make strong contributions, and those who have money contribute to the layout of the track and launch their own hardware and software ecosystems.

At present, Meta has the highest market share. Its Oculus Quest 2, released in 2020, occupies about 78% of the market with its superior performance and low price. According to media reports, Meta also plans to release 2 AR glasses as early as 2024. Among them, the AR glasses called “Project Nazare” do not require the cooperation of smartphones, but need to be equipped with a wireless device to assist in computing; the other is cheaper AR glasses. Hypernova needs to be paired with a smartphone. According to Meta’s plan, the company will launch AR glasses in 2024, 2026 and 2028. 

Source: TechSpot 

Google belongs to the representative who starts early and catches up late. Google Glass failed miserably in 2015, leaving valuable lessons for other companies as a pioneer in AR exploration. In the following years, Google has remained on hold until the past two years, when Google’s parent company successively acquired Canadian AR glasses manufacturer Northand Micro LED company Raxium , indicating that Big Brother is making a comeback. At the beginning of 2022, the media exposed the AR head display project Project Iris, and the product is expected to be launched in 2024 at the earliest.

In the B-end market, Microsoft HoloLens has an advantage. Apple has also been rumored to release VR/AR headsets.

Looking closely at domestic manufacturers, ByteDance has achieved a dominant position in the Asian market with Pico.Xiaomi smart glasses, OPPO ‘s Air Glass, and iQiyi ‘s Qiyu series glasses currently occupy a small market share. In addition,Alibaba , Tencent and other companies have entered the VR/AR hardware field by investing in companies such as Nrealand Black Shark Technology (plan). Even Luo Yonghao fell in love with this track. When responding to the concerns of netizens on Weibo, he mentioned that future entrepreneurship should be AR, not the VR Metaverse defined by Zuckerberg. 

02 The landing of VR/AR is not only for playing games

In terms of landing scenarios, when we mentioned VR/AR in the past, it was nothing more than games, audio and video, and entertainment. In fact, on the enterprise side, the application scenarios of VR/AR are constantly expanding.

Companies headed by Meta and Microsoft take virtual office space as an important layout for developing the Metaverse. Especially today, with the repeated epidemics and the rise of remote office, immersive virtual office experience has become a rigid need for many enterprises.

For example , Accenture and Microsoft have jointly created a virtual space ” Nth Floor “, where employees around the world can meet, speak, and work. About 100,000 new employees join Accenture every year, and they can go through on-boarding and training in virtual space, and thousands of employees have already participated in dozens of events through VR/AR headsets. Accenture also recently purchased 60,000 Oculus Quest 2s for employee training, the largest purchase of enterprise-level VR headsets to date. 

Accenture’s virtual office space Nth Floor | Source: LinkedIn 

The significance of VR/AR for corporate training is not only cool or fun, some evidence shows that this novel method can indeed improve the training effect for enterprises. One of the important aspects is that VR/AR training provides a realistic atmosphere, especially for practitioners in medical, service and other fields, this sense of reality and seriousness cannot be satisfied by traditional “role-playing” training ——The role-playing can easily lead to embarrassment or comedy, or it will become a big stage for co-workers, and the training effect is often compromised.

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the learning efficiency of subjects participating in VR training was 4 times higher than offline training and 1.7 times higher than that of traditional online training; VR trainers were more emotionally invested in training than online training. After the training, the subjects who participated in the VR training were more willing to practice the training content at work than the participants in the other two types of training, and their confidence levels were higher than 40% and 35%. 

Source: Osso VR 

In some specific industries, the value of VR/AR training is reflected in hard skills. Osso VR , a VR company that provides surgical training and evaluation services to medical institutions, has calculated that the cost of hosting an offline surgical training ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars, so many people have few opportunities to participate in the training. There are even fewer opportunities to learn rare disease surgery. With the help of VR equipment, medical staff can carry out training anytime and anywhere, saving costs and practicing targeted exercises to help them improve their operation level.

03 Plant a tree today and enjoy the shade ten years later

In this wave of VR/AR boom, there is no shortage of bad voices. Some people believe that the current VR/AR technology has no essential breakthrough compared with a few years ago, and the technologies such as chips, sensors, and communications it relies on are far from meeting the requirements of “immersion”. Therefore, this wave is still a bubble. The leek cutting routine of old wine in new bottles. Is that true?

2018 was the last time that VR/AR technology was on Gartner’s emerging technology maturity curve. Later, Gartner officially stated that because VR/AR-related technologies are already very mature, they will no longer be included and give way to more new ones that need attention. technology. Since then, although VR/AR has shown technological progress visible to the naked eye, from the perspective of terminal experience, there is still room for improvement in image quality, delay, perception interaction, etc. The lack of killer applications at the content level is still hindering VR/AR devices. popularization issue. However, it takes time to break through these technical barriers and build a healthy and prosperous ecosystem of developers and creators. 

Source: Daily Boyonet 

Zuckerberg said at Meta’s 2022 Q1 earnings call that the efforts now invested in VR/AR will not see results until 2030 and 2040. Waiting for VR/AR to blossom, we need a little patience. Not just patience. 

References:

1.  VR/AR Investments Increase Just As Metaverse Talk Heats Up (Crunchbase)
2.  AR/VR Headset Shipments Grew Dramatically in 2021 (IDC)
3. Osso VR
4. How Virtual Reality is Redefining Soft Skills Training (PwC)