Will self-imposed isolation due to the threat of COVID-19 change the fortunes of VR and AR?

Updated: May 1, 2020

It’s easy to see the current crisis as the necessary spark for new technologies that allow people to collaborate more deeply. For example, Facebook’s Oculus is already set up for people to meet and chat in a virtual space; it just needs customers to actually take it up on the offer. But as with everything VR and AR up to this point. It also comes down to cost. There’s a high likelihood that many companies will tighten their budgets if things drag on; spending lots of money on AR or VR headsets simply won’t work for many firms, not when a laptop and a phone loaded with video-conferencing apps will ultimately lead to the same productivity outcomes. Firms that rely on hands-on collaboration (such the aforementioned medical or industrial processes) could have a better use for AR and VR, but that’s a use-case nearly as specialized as gaming. If VR and AR are to go mainstream, it might all hinge on making headsets cheaper, with better hardware, and finally producing killer apps that massive numbers of people want to use. The COVID-19 crisis probably won’t affect the fortunes of AR and VR in the short term, but inexpensive headsets and better software could change the game if remote-work becomes the long-term normal.

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