There's no question about it: there is an undercurrent of developers, techies and investors who all have their eyes on virtual reality/virtual augmentation/360° film. We have barely scratched the surface in terms of consumer flux on available products (especially because the bulk of the products aren't even released yet). Never before have we seen so much hype prior to a series of products being released. What should this mean to you? This means you should invest!
For starters, what's the difference between 'Augmented Reality' and 'Virtual Reality'? Augmented reality is open, meaning one interacts with a hologram or radio waves that read your movement while in ones natural environment. Virtual reality is closed, meaning you're utilizing tools such as a headset or a phone in order to participate. Virtual reality is great for films and games while augmented reality has the potential to interact with our daily lives. Both are infantile industries that are soon to boom.
Digi-Capital, a consultant company in technology, gaming and AR/VR, forecasts that "AR/VR could hit $150B revenue by 2020, with AR taking the lion's share around $120 billion and VR at $30 billion," as illustrated by the graphic above.
Who are the big players to keep an eye on?
GOOGLE (623.56, down 20.72, 3.22% quoted by NASDAQ)
Google just acquired secret startup company Magic Leap, settling on a $542 million-dollar deal. Magic Leap is a company working on building a head-mount which imposes holographic images over real world objects. So, essentially, you're in your house eating dinner with your family and a computer-generated fairy could be sharing the meal with you. This company is early in development and has potential to change the way we live our day-to-day lives.
FACEBOOK (95.6, up 1.5, 1.58% quoted by NASDAQ)
Facebook recently purchased Oculus, a startup currently developing a headset, gaming console and content (through Oculus Story Studio) all aimed at the virtual reality market. The Oculus Rift Headset is targeted to be available to consumers Q1, 2016. Oculus is currently set to be the leader of the virtual reality experiential community.
GoPro (62.17, down 1.7, 2.78% quoted by NASDAQ)
GoPro has teamed up with Google to launch Google JUMP - a virtual reality ecosystem for filmmakers. To learn more about Google JUMP, visit our post on 360° cameras. As part of the JUMP initiative, GoPro and Google have created a 16-camera rig that fits only Hero4 cameras. Beyond this, GoPro has released a 6-camera mount to capture 360° images. YouTube 360° currently integrates with 360° films, as ones created by these rigs/set of cameras. GoPro recently acquired Kolor, a stitching software that combines all the images captured by the separate cameras.
MICROSOFT (45.94, down .17, 0.37% quoted by NASDAQ)
Much like Google, Microsoft is pushing to be the leader of the augmented reality industry. The MicroSoft HoloLens is a 'see-through holographic computer' which integrates holograms into your physical environment utilizing this visor-like device. Microsoft has developed holograms that interact with your movement, thus taking 'touch screen' a step further. The HoloLens has yet to be released onto consumer market.
SONY (29.27, up 0.05, 0.15% quoted by NASDAQ)
Sony has teamed up with Playstation to make a mark in the virtual reality arena. They're releasing a headset titled Project Morpheus. The headset is clearly target predominantly to gamers. You can learn more about the perks and limits of the headset/console here.
There are many other players in the arena of AR/VR, many of which are still in the private sector. If you intend in taking a piece of the augmented reality and virtual reality pies, now is the time to strike. The consumer market hasn't caught up with the development of this exciting new frontier.
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