Virtual reality is on everybody’s lips today. We are constantly seeing new products being launched in the market and the largest technological companies such as Facebook and Samsung are investing massively in it. In the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week, both companies have presented new initiatives to accelerate the penetration of virtual reality. Still and for the moment, the computer power needed to get good quality VR is mostly reserved to regular and traditional computers. Oculus for example will launch a first commercial headset that is only compatible with certain PCs.
This will change. As smartphones become more powerful, we can foresee that in the future they will become the companion device of choice for virtual reality. Most VR hardware and glasses will leverage a smartphone to be powered and operated. This is important because it might give a new life to smartphones.
As an industry, the smartphones are gently reaching a plateau. The number of useful functionalities you can add to a new device every year is getting more limited. The differentiation between the manufacturers is also narrowing and the OS are evolving less rapidly than in the past. By potentially become the companion device to VR, the smartphone industry might find a new path of growth. The VR headsets that are going to be commercialized this year are really a first version and we can expect a lot of improvements in the future. It will take time for these to become ubiquitous and a mass market opportunity. This provides the time for smartphones to become more powerful as the market grows.
Being able to use a smartphone instead of a traditional computer to use your VR glass also offers also an unlimited number of new applications to virtual and augmented reality which developers can use to create interesting experiences. It will also create new ways for people to interact with technologies and should foster other industries and startups. For better or worst, the future seems to be virtual.