How does the epidemic of the coronavirus affect the future of virtual reality?

4 min read

How does the epidemic of the coronavirus affect the future of virtual reality?

Senior wife and granddaughter have fun at home with augmented reality glasses

Millions are trapped at home and are searching for an escape. Life in quarantine is a challenge, and for this moment virtual reality ( VR) looks tailor-made.

For years, virtual reality has struggled for widespread adoption by consumers. Now the structural shifts that alter all facets of society – from the workplace to the health care system – are generating new chances of transforming VR.

Industry Augmented Reality: 2012-Presented

Perhaps the sensorama, a 1962 machine which simulates a Brooklyn motorcycle ride using all five senses, was the first real "VR" experience. More recently, VR has been growing and starting with the announcement by Oculus in 2012 of the Rift and the 2014 Facebook acquisition, as well as the 2016 Playstation, HTC and Samsung Gear VR devices.

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VR headset search interest in the United States line graph

VR grew in fitness and starts. NGRAMHEALTH.COM CREDIT:

Last year, Oculus released the Quest, the first $400 headset to provide the best VR experience on a fully-fledged device that does not require a gaming computer. In the 2019 holiday season, US participation in the Search surpassed that of any VR headset in the previous 10 years. But overall headsets declined in 2019, and global supply chain disruptions have frequently made supportive best-sellers such as Quest and Valve Index out of stock. Pent-up demand is still unsatisfactory.

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What does this mean for the future industry?

Business and company VR: A Story of Two Markets

As big, diverse tech giants such as Facebook, Sony, and HTC all invest heavily on customer competition, RV based manufacturers, such as Varjo and Pico, have generated growing market niches through unique technological capacity building and corporate use.

Although essentially complementary, the company and consumer VR markets each have specific dynamics and maturity stages. For instance , companies adopt VR twice as quickly as consumers.

Bar charts comparing consumer versus company VR adoption.

Companies adopt VR twice the speed of CREDIT consumers: VR INTELLIGENCE

Healthy rivalry between manufacturers of headsets, frequently corporate design solutions, and general advancement in computer vision are likely to lead to a wide range of high-quality hardware choices. Such developments support a increasing industry of application developers and service providers.

User VR a Gaming Landgrab

On the other hand, the consumer demand for VR would possibly lead to increasingly blurred boundaries between large platforms and web developers in a user- and user-data battle.

For example, Oculus bought Beat Saber, the developer of the # 1 VR game. Valve builds a mobile app store for video games, headphones and Steam. Steam is an impressive success story for vertical integration. The monthly connected headsets follow an unprecedented pattern of growth since 2016.

If this trend continues, gaming will likely promote consumer VR growth in the immediate future. With its introduction later this year, the VR-compatible PS5 supply chains with signs of recovery and reports of a coming Search refresh, the holiday season in 2020 will deliver a significant bellwether for the maturity of the consumer VR industry.

Covid-19 Implications on Enterprise VR in 2020

Covid-19 has forced many societies to change rapidly. Our work, education and health systems will never be the same and several interesting experiments – and opportunities – are taking place in these areas.

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Man works with a headset and laptop for virtual reality at home.

As our digital lives grow in 3D, it is important to ensure that these experiences are created ... GETTY [+] GETTY

In just a few months, Zoom went from 10 M users to 300 M users. This tremendous usage growth has led to new cases of use (e.g. virtual conferences), best practices (e.g. liberal use of the silent button), and norms (e.g., virtual backgrounds are generally acceptable now).

Both these interactions require a certain amount of visual processing and interpretation. Increasingly, as our digital life becomes more 3D, these interactions can create a sense of presence that facilitates the successful exchange of ideas and information.

The development of a presence requires no headset. For example, Argodesign 's artificial window definition simulates working with a colleague — right up to the eye — and VirBela lets conference participants travel through computer-based video game-like worlds.

In the meantime, companies with full spatial audio and 3D telepresence solutions such as Spatial construct experience that allows you to take part in both a device and a VR. These types of cross-platform interactions are likely to make the adoption curve easier for users.


After the financial crisis of 2008, the Affordable Care Act centered the US health care sector more on preventive, community-based services and encouraged the use of technology to build value. Covid-19 is expected to speed up these developments.

Home health is America's fastest-growing healthcare market. In the face of heightened concerns regarding safety measures in nursing homes and hospitals, many Americans are gradually taking care of the elderly.

Government regulators enable this to expand access to telehealth for Medicare and publish new guidelines for digital health devices that treat psychiatric disorders. Although these changes occurred in the coronavirus, they will (and should) remain long after the crisis is over.

Woman with virtual reality and the digital image that she is seeing

Virtual reality allows us to create synthetic environments which evoke particular physiological and ... [+] NGRAMHEALTH.COM CREDIT.

If this is obvious from Covid-19, this is: the world around us matters. When you look around and invest your time, what you see deeply affects your feelings.

Virtual reality allows us to create synthetic contexts which elicit specific physiological and emotional responses. This power can provide a new type of medical procedure for pain , anxiety, phobia, strokes, dementia and many other conditions.

Older women in nursing homes use augmented reality goggles.

In the end, immersion is viewed together with drugs, devices, operations and procedures as a ... GETTY [+] GETTY

Immersion is now seen in the Medical Toolbox as a regular tool alongside medications, tools, surgeries and procedures.

Catalyzing New VR Chances

It is extremely difficult to alter deep-rooted attitudes and habits, which often impede the use of potentially-changing new technologies.

Now that at least a third of the world 's population is locked down, coronavirus has forced a big change in actions. Technologies that can help us develop limited physical environments have never been more important. With the technology of virtual reality advancing rapidly, groundbreaking new technologies are ready to fulfill this need.

The article was written by Larry Singul, Israel's Virtual Reality 2013.

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