Is virtual and augmented reality in business is in tandem to be repressed by the COVID-19 pandemic? Let’s see how AR/VR app developers should react to the massive digital shift and capture their share in the collaboration tools market.
With more and more people working on remote basis during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have experienced a significant change in the nature of conducting their business. The one major question often popping up these days.
Are these changes permanent, or will they revert back to their old self once the outbreak subsides?
Doesn’t matter how long it takes for businesses to get to their usual proceedings, the hunt for creating and using the best collaboration tools has begun. Millions of employees worldwide are already using videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, and chatting platforms like Teams, Slack, etc.
Besides that, we also have the augmented and virtual reality technology as an untapped medium which employees can use to collaborate remotely.
How far has the virtual and augmented reality in business come?
Since the past few years, AR was considered an exclusively niche industry. Despite the investments put in for the developments of VR headsets by Facebook, HTC, Valve, etc., developers haven’t shown a noticeable enthusiasm in developing applications and an entire ecosystem revolving around VR.
Although the gaming business was one sector listing the VR’s market strength, but still there hasn’t been a game that has encouraged people to purchase a $400 headset just for the sake of playing.
There was a time when industry experts overstated the VR tech to go mainstream in the near future. For instance, in 2014, Bloomberg introduced a proof-of-concept, VR tool displaying how finance professionals could utilize virtual space in order to consume and work through loads of data. While VR was the talk of the town at the 2016 Mobile World Congress, and Google showcased Daydream VR for the mass audience.
At the same time, several tech businesses began to inquire the concept of AR. In 2016, Pokémon Go was launched and became an instant hit, the AR-based game superimposed virtual imagery on the player’s real-world environment.
Following the unprecedented success of Pokémon Go, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, stated that soon the augmented reality technology will be considered as a large, multi-sector market.
Understandably, companies found it quite difficult for people to spend hundreds of bucks on a VR game. Developers, considering the lack of sufficient demand and sales, refused to work further on creating softwares.
Unsurprisingly, the costly prospect paired with no particular consumer demand made Google shut down its VR endeavors, and Facebook is no longer promoting Oculus as aggressively as it used to.
Apparently, no game has managed to accomplish the feat and success bar set by Pokémon Go. Despite some desperate attempts in the name of the “The Walking Dead” AR game, where you’ll fight flesh eating monsters in your backyard, and IKEA releasing a series of seemingly interesting AR tools, the efforts didn’t fare well up to the expectations.
Related content: 10 Best Augmented Reality Games for Android and iOS in 2020
COVID-19—shaping the AR/VR technology’s future
As we are watching the global economy coming almost to a standstill with grave repercussions in terms of rising unemployment, loss of business, social chaos, etc. What fortune do we see changing for the AR/VR sector?
On the plus side, collaboration tools and technologies are experiencing a rising demand and acquisition from businesses and employees worldwide. In short, the COVID-19 impact has in fact pushed new businesses to surface.
For instance, Microsoft has already presented its AR HoloLens for a wide array of target audience as a tool to communicate through longer distances, while Facebook’s Oculus is tempting people to meet and talk in a virtual environment. Understandably, such shift needs a full-fledge pass for users to accept it.
However, do note that AR and VR are also experiencing the same crunch as other sectors. If the pandemic continues over an extended period, organizations will squeeze their budget, hence, marketing expensive headsets won’t be a feasible idea for many firms. Even more so when people have their laptops and smartphones installed with videoconferencing applications helping teams with relevant communication and outcomes.
Yes, companies, professionals or processes that are dependent on hands-on, flawless collaboration such as surgeons, industrial processes, etc. might be the only target audience at this point. Still, that’s a use case scenario as specific as the gaming business.
In order to capture the digital limelight, AR/VR technology will be forced to cut down the retail prices of headsets, equip with better hardware, and create top-notch apps to persuade people into making a purchase.
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t likely to affect the market of AR/VR in the short term, but cheaper tools with better hardware, software and user experience can grab their place in collaboration applications market if remote working becomes a long-term routine.
Imran Abdul Rauf is a Digital Marketing Strategist, employed at CMOLDS, and specializes in content marketing, email marketing campaigns, lead generation, and other aspects of digital marketing. A content enthusiast by the day, and hardcore gamer by night, Imran is also a regular guest contributor at some of the top tech and digital marketing platforms.