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In the first of our posts on virtual reality we looked at the future of the technology. In this, the second, we look at the business challenges of adopting VR. It clearly has brilliant potential, but what hurdles do firms need to leap in order to truly embrace it?
If you want to start using VR as part of your day-to-day business, you’re going to need bandwidth. And lots of it. Let’s say you're a car dealership and you want your customers to use VR headsets to experience what’s it like to drive a supercar. Or you’re a travel company and you want your customers to see what life’s like in one of America’s national parks. You could use VR to help you do this, but you’d need to prepare for a major investment in bandwidth infrastructure.
Charles Cheevers, chief technology officer at ARRIS, has suggested that a VR game in 720p will require 50Mbps and a 4K VR game will need 500 Mbps. “So maybe VR is the one that drives the need for gigabit speeds, gigabit Wi-Fi and all that stuff,” he said.
Probably not. At the moment, a big problem with wider VR adoption is that, for individuals and for businesses, most simply don’t have the necessary technology to handle it. Last year, just 13 million PCs around the world had the necessary graphics capabilities to run VR systems, according to forecasts from Nvidia. 17 million might sound a lot, but when you consider that around 1.4 billion PCs are in use globally, it’s really just a drop in the ocean. So adoption of VR is inherently tied to investment. If businesses want to use it, they’ll have to inject lots of money into improving their IT infrastructure.
If you want to start offering your customers or your employees immersive VR experiences, you might want to consider the health implications of the tech. Quite simply, it isn’t really known what the long-term health effects of VR use could be. Clearly though, manufacturers have some concerns. Health and safety guidance for users of the Oculus Rift, for example, lists the following as among the possible side-effects:
Loss of awareness
Altered, blurred, or double vision or other visual abnormalities
So clearly the potential health effects of VR use could be a problem. If customer confidence in VR is dampened by such concerns, how will companies seek to allay such fears?
VR will need some time to bed in, properly cementing itself in the mainstream flow of things until, eventually, it is a normal part of business use. This ‘natural sorting’ will inevitably occur, just as it has with many other things - think big data and the internet of things, which were once seen as alien concepts yet, for the most part, are now standard. “I think that we still haven’t found the basic vocabulary of virtual reality and that’s the challenge we have as an industry,” Nicholas Fortugno, co-founder of Playmatics, told Hypergrid Business.