Does the emergence of mainstream VR lie in niche markets?

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Here we are, at last. The long awaited mainstream virtual reality emergence is now very close.

The key elements of this emergence are, of course, stunning recent hardware devices and the efforts of the VR industry to promote these products.

But beside the ambient VR games trend, will the full emergence come from VR niche markets?

Beyond the 'wow' effect

Anyone having recently experienced an high end VR headsets have been hit by the wow effect. Most of the real time 3D experienced professionals I know (humbly including myself) have been really surprised by the quality of this new VR experience.

We may have experienced cave systems or similar devices in the past but this time, this is it, we are in the Matrix.

The interactivity element of VR is the most exciting and opens up new, unexplored fields of user experience

Now that everybody has caught their breath, let’s speak about a factor that will be very important in the year to come: VR content.

Most previsions I have seen so far view this promising VR market a bit like the mobile gaming market some years ago: targeted to the BTC game market.

I have the strong intuition that we may be surprised by the emergence of innovative VR usage in the B2B market; you know, the one that is around 10% in almost all the VR sector previsions pie charts.

Three niche markets leveraging VR key features 

Three industry related niche markets may take advantage of VR as we know it today: the architecture, engineering and construction industry (AEC), the product lifecycle management industry (PLM) and the training industry.

These three industries can leverage a trio of main features of VR: scale effect, robustness and a new kind of interactivity.

I think the 'wow' effect comes from what I call the scale effect.

The first time I tried the Vive Robot repair lab demo, everything was impressive. But I didn't reach the 'wow' effect until I saw the robot walking toward me at a very realistic scale.

This scale effect actually applies to all well designed VR content and can help AEC industry stakeholders, PLM team and trainees to actually live the experience like no 2D screens allowed it until now.

While public VR headsets are quite recent, they appear to me as robust, allowing to include VR devices in real industry and training company processes.

The interactivity element of VR is the most exciting and opens up new, unexplored fields of user experience. VR is a way to create new 3D experiences in a way that has never been done before on screen.

A new VR interactive experience vocabulary will emerge, just like mouse clicks on a 2D screen or tablet gestures have done.

Time to chat

VR B2B applications will not emerge relying only on developers and UX designers talent. One of the conditions for this market to emerge is that 3D developers, UX designers and the industry actors meet.

We need to chat about actual business use cases to solve using VR applications. As an example, let’s consider a VR training experience in which the application allows to report data about where the trainee was mainly looking at during the VR 3D training session.

While it’s possible to retrieve this information, would that be useful for the training authors? VR could allow the creation of new training scenarios, but what would the scenarios be?

To find out how companies could actually leverage this wonderful piece of technology, VR specialised creation studios and the industry need to meet and discuss the exploration of this new field of VR. 

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