March 16, 2020 – Oculus has today unveiled a major update to the Oculus Quest system experience that the company states will make virtual reality on its

When will the average person use virtual reality on a daily basis?

Thank you for the question: When will the average person use virtual reality on a daily basis?

My estimate: About 5 years – Obviously depending on major players not dropping the ball.

In order to be used daily, VR has to become a de-glamorized problem solver and provide useful solutions to the user. There is no doubt that the VR headsets/HMD’s will continue to improve in terms of user comfort, battery life, some haptics, and decent image resolutions. Also, in the 5 years, the telecommunication technology of 5G is expected to be established and stable, with a network slice allocated to VR. So, infrastructure and hardware should not be an obstacle to the daily use – But still, in order for the user to engage with it frequently, VR needs to earn its place as the most efficient way to provide the content; Think of a microwave oven or, to provide an even more intuitive example, a pop-up toaster in your kitchen today; you use these devices every day; of course, you could toast your bread in a pan which is heated on a stove but the toaster makes it so much easier: you can just pop in your 2 slices and start the process and walk away; Then a chime or a signal will notify you when the operation is complete; You could not have this convenience and time-saving efficiency if you had selected the stove top option. Thus, the toaster has earned its position and role as a device that will be used daily; VR has to do similar weightlifting.

Many ( billions) people around the world have smartphones and they use it every day for face to face communication. Regardless of whether these are moving images (video) or non-moving stills (photos), these are all 2-dimensional and flat – because that is all that current technology meaningfully allows today. If VR offers a more wholesome (read three-dimensional) way of looking at images, then it will get adopted, since it is simply more natural. There is also a growing suspicion associated with flat images, due to the new deepfake technology which manipulates these images nefariously. This trend is growing and, people, in increasing numbers, will start reducing their trust in these flat images shared online. VR may be able to mitigate this since stereoscopic images cannot be easily converted to misrepresent the visual content. Even outside of this deepfake problem, people may want to share their important experiences like weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations so that these are immersive – you may want viewers to feel and appreciate the size of the wedding or birthday cake, not just see it as a flat image.

So, in order to use VR every day, there has to be useful content that is meaningful to the users ; at its simplest, it can be the personally relevant stuff like communicating with your near and dear family, friends; it can also be something more complex like repairing a carburetor on your older car or arranging the ikebana floral arrangements, where a short immersive VR session is a whole lot more efficient than fumbling around with flat documents and websites.

Please note that to use VR every day, you don’t necessarily need to spend long durations with it; Going back to the example above involving a toaster in your kitchen, it is used only a short percentage of the time.

Since I have narrated the VR for all in a reverse chronological fashion, let me explain it more simply by how I think the VR mindset will and should emerge in the consumer mindset:

Year 1 (thru 2020): New headsets like Oculus Quest get introduced to consumers; Non-gaming content is small but growing; 5G is getting started. VR cameras are getting affordable and tools for creating, editing VR content are becoming more user-friendly. Blockchain-based cryptocurrency solutions, such as (but not limited to) Libra introduced by Facebook, get good marks from privacy hawks and may represent an approach for monetizing VR content distribution.

Year 2 (thru 2021): Ordinary people (non-gamers) are getting more comfortable with hands-on use of VR and this is starting to spread, around the world, starting from major cities into smaller townships and municipalities leading to a new wave of consumer-focused (similar to early/good days of Blockbuster) VR startups. Affordable VR cameras continue to emerge, each offering not just better resolution and field of view but also improved stabilization. Real-time co-participation is generally available for end users, thereby making VR no longer solitary or isolating.

Year 3 (thru 2022): Because VR promises to reduce some travel (and thereby associated carbon footprint), many governments are encouraged to incentivize it as a “green” technology – especially since participation can be authenticated and is relatively immune from deepfake type manipulations.

Year 4 (thru 2023): Laptops built for VR get introduced (with DisplayPort 2 built-in) and assures resolutions up to 16K. Fiber to the homes is increasingly rolled out in urban areas and major metros.

Year 5 (thru 2024): VR is now firmly established in the workplace (and schools and hospitals)- even if its footprint is small for the present. Just as speakerphone established itself 25 years ago in corporate conference rooms, a VR camera and a viewer is mostly standard for many offices. When discussing an event or a meeting, this new option has become a part of the vernacular: “I am going to VR into it”. At this point, most households (who can reasonably afford smartphone etc) have at least one system for viewing/watching/consuming VR content. With your specific question about assembling a particular Ikea furniture item or arranging your Ikebana arrangement, you will use VR first. Showing off your Thanksgiving turkey? VR-live sharing is the way to go.