Experts Say Mass Adoption of Augmented and Virtual Reality is Many Years Away

The Future of Infotainment Panel at the Disruptive Technologies Conference at UT Austin.

By LAURA LOREK
Publisher of Silicon Hills News

It’s going to take the mass consumer market years to catch up to all the innovation in the augmented reality and virtual reality marketplace, according to a panel of experts at the University of Texas at Austin on Thursday.

One of the challenges for virtual reality and augmented reality is convincing the consumer to put something on their face and cover their eyes, said Eric Feng, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm.

“It’s still many, many, many years out before we’ll have true consumer adoption of this technology, Feng said.

Feng spoke on a panel on the Future of Infotainment at the Disruptive Technologies Conference at the University of Texas at Austin on Thursday.

Feng’s firm has invested in Magic Leap, a Plantation, Florida-based privately held company with a research and development center in Austin, which is one of the leaders in the augmented reality space. The highly secretive company, which has raised more than $1 billion in venture capital, is creating a wearable device aimed at consumers that include goggles or some kind of glasses.

The product is not available yet, but it is spectacular, Feng said.

Next week, Apple is updating its software to increase its Augmented Reality technology and that should encourage more people to use it, according to the panelists.

Augmented Reality, like the popular Pokemon Go game, superimposes information, like a Pokemon character, into a real world view. Whereas virtual reality completely immerses a person into a digital world. Google also has experimented with Augmented Reality with its Google Glasses.

Apple this summer released an ARKit to let developers build AR applications for iPhone and iPads, according to Bloomberg. Apple’s new operating system set to be released next week is expected to have even more AR capabilities to more than one billion devices.

The industry is also being held up by the cost of high powered computers to run virtual reality applications and the lack of content said Jan Goetgeluk, founder, and CEO of Virtuix. The company is based at Capital Factory and makes a virtual reality motion platform for moving freely and naturally in video games and virtual worlds.

Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at UT Austin and inventor of Ethernet, moderated the panel and asked the panelists what the killer application is for virtual reality?

Magic Leap could be the application that is good enough for consumers to overcome their apprehension about putting on an augmented or virtual reality headset, Goetgeluk said.

The killer app is education, said Jay Banerjee, Chief Operating Officer for ImmersiveTouch, a company that makes a virtual reality system that combines 360-degree video and 3D interactive content to teach surgical techniques to physicians inside a digital environment.

Goldman Sachs Research expects virtual and augmented reality to become an $80 billion market by 2025, roughly the size of the desktop PC market today, according to a recent report by Heather Bellini. She also sees it transforming industries like real estate, healthcare, and education.

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