An Overview of the Booming VR Market
It has taken many years, but the VR and AR markets are finally coming into their own. Now that VR devices have been on the market for a while, new predictions based on the data estimate that the markets combined will be worth $108 billion by 2021. The staggering number of advancements in the VR market has made for booming growth in the last year. Let’s take a look at what’s going on in the fast-paced world of virtual reality these days.
The Top VR Companies
The reason VR is booming right now is because the right companies are developing innovative products for the market. Currently, some of the leading companies in VR are Alphabet (Google), Facebook, Sony, NVIDIA , HTC, and SNAP.
As a cutting-edge tech company with a $539.4 billion valuation, Google is, unsurprisingly, a big player in the VR scene. Their parent company Alphabet’s VR division has distinguished itself from other VR companies by offering a simple, low-cost option for experiencing VR: Google Cardboard. While other headsets can cost close to $1000, the cardboard retails at $15—or $25 for two. They even show you how to make your own! These headsets are light, inexpensive, and integrate with VR Youtube videos, making them perfect for the classroom (Google has already distributed some of these headsets in schools).
Facebook, with a valuation of $380 billion, bought and took over management of the Oculus Rift in 2014, releasing the VR headsets in 2016. The Oculus Rift is one of the first VR gaming headsets to hit the market, and it allows users to play in VR, while allowing others to watch on the computer screen. Eventually, the company would like to expand their VR products to integrate with interactions on the social network.
Sony PlayStation is one of the major players in the VR gaming space, and its headsets are priced well below its competitors’ products. It also pairs with the popular PlayStation 4 system, instead of requiring a powerful PC to run VR games, which makes the technology more accessible to consumers.
There may be other VR headsets on the market, but HTC’s Vive model is considered by many to be the best available. It’s a high-end product that is now matched by the Oculus headset offered by Facebook. However, since the two systems are about the same price, it now comes down to a matter of preference. HTC is valued at $2.08 billion.
Where Should You Invest?
Though the top dogs of the tech industry are all fighting over pieces of the VR pie, there are a lot of smaller companies that are making incredible advances in the industry—and even allowing it to move forward at all. These companies are a great bet if you’re thinking of investing in VR in the near future.
Since so much of VR is expected to be linked to smartphone use, compatibility is important. Qualcomm, a chip producer, is beginning to offer processors for smartphones that will allow them to be compatible with VR headsets. Most headsets are optimized for use with computers and gaming systems, so greater smartphone integration will be key to future efforts.
NVIDIA and AMD produce the powerful graphics processors that allow VR games on headsets like the Oculus and the Vive to run. High-quality graphics cards are the backbone of the VR experience. A fast, high quality graphics card is absolutely essential for an immersive experience, and both these companies are rising to meet the demands of the industry.
Virtuix also offers an exciting product—fully immersive VR. In addition to the headset, the setup includes a VR platform the player stands on. If you want to invest in the next wave of VR, Virtuix might just be the company for you.
The Genesis of Top VR Companies
It’s been a long road for many VR companies. Some started off under the umbrella of giants like Google, while others had more humble beginnings. As many founders do, Palmer Luckey began working on the Oculus Rift in his garage, and started making the dream of VR a reality. The first prototype was ugly and bulky—but it eventually developed into a sleek consumer product.
Many VR startups have had to get creative with funding to realize their dreams—with crowdfunding, venture capital, and even bootstrapping, only those with determination have managed to be successful in the industry.
VR vs. AR
The VR and AR (augmented reality) industries are often lumped together. They may be closely tied, but they’re not the same. AR enhances our reality—introducing digital elements to the real world instead of immersing us in a different world. The incredible success of Pokemon GO shows that there’s a place for AR at the table—but the progression will be very different from the booming VR industry.