Imagination Unlimited: Why 2017 will be the year of amazing experiences, thanks to virtual reality

In 2016, the virtual and physical worlds continued to merge, as everyday objects and entire cities became smart and connected to the cloud. In 2017, we foresee the commercial application of this synergy between hardware and software becoming mainstream, offering novel experiences that take users to new heights of sight, sound and touch. This digital revolution will transform how most industries approach ‘experiential’ situations.


By Sandeep Aurora

For 50 years now, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been a platform to showcase breakthrough technologies that make experiences previously unimagined or impossible, a reality. This year, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, and computing innovation-led virtual reality (VR) took center-stage, and consumers laid their hands on technologies that amplify human capabilities to create truly immersive experiences that can transform the way we live, work and play – limited only by imagination. Audiences were steered through a series of VR experiences as they jumped off a helicopter in Moab, Utah, in wingsuits; hiked near a huge waterfall in rural Vietnam; took a low-altitude flight inspecting over a Nevada solar power plant; not to mention, fought to survive a zombie apocalypse, without ever needing to leave a conference room in Las Vegas.

In 2016, the virtual and physical worlds continued to merge, as everyday objects and entire cities became smart and connected to the cloud. In 2017, we foresee the commercial application of this synergy between hardware and software becoming mainstream, offering novel experiences that take users to new heights of sight, sound and touch. This digital revolution will transform how most industries approach ‘experiential’ situations. The very first industries to adopt VR around the world were those seen to be a natural fit – gaming or e-sports, travel, entertainment and social media. In India, VR headset shipments reached over $3.4 million in value in early 2016, with headsets featuring a 100-degree field of view, capturing a major share of the market.

By challenging the current barriers to experience, VR will add a physical dimension to activities such as gaming. In the near future, eSports champions could compete with real life athletes in fitness and speed, needing the same degree of skill and flexibility to succeed in the virtual world. In a shooting game, the player would need to jump, spin, crouch and duck in real life as the on-screen avatar dodges a laser attack.

Technology firms are already collaborating with content developers to create ultra-high resolution, six-degrees of freedom, and cinematic live-action VR captures. The goal is to continue making experiences more and more real for consumers without completely blurring out the real environment.

Pushing the boundaries of personal computing, expect great VR PCs and high-resolution experiences by the end of 2017, especially as other industries such as marketing, real-estate, healthcare, manufacturing, defense services, education and disaster rescue among others, rapidly catch up in terms of adoption.

A Goldman Sachs report published last year, estimates the global combined virtual reality and augmented reality market will reach $80 billion in market size by 2025, roughly the size of the desktop PC market today. India, one of the world’s fastest emerging markets for mobile device adoption and app development, is also fast becoming a destination for VR innovation as Indian companies develop products in this space. The rising ubiquity of VR-based products such as head-up displays and head-mounted displays among various end users is likely to drive the growth in India’s VR market over the next five years.

The head-mounted display (HMD), much like the PC, will witness its revolution within a decade as the device hits the mass market. As technology advances, prices will fall, which will be the inflection point in HMD story, very similar to what we saw with the PC’s disruption during the dot-com boom. With no direct attachment to the PC or any other screen, the experience will be more natural and uninhibited. Though the Occulus Rift and the HTC Vive have been the first-movers in VR, expect an expanded range of headsets, with wireless capabilities, higher fields of view, and even 8K imaging, as well as mainstream VR PCs to emerge for sale on shelf this year.

Finally, as great network connectivity and fine-tuned graphics stitch together great VR experiences, the possibilities are endless, so let 2017 surprise you.

The author is director, marketing and market development for Intel South Asia

The Great Diwali Discount!
Unlock 75% more savings this festive season. Get Moneycontrol Pro for a year for Rs 289 only.
Coupon code: DIWALI. Offer valid till 10th November, 2019 .