Why We Need VR Sunglasses

I’ve been saying for years that virtual reality (followed up by augmented reality) is the next great leap for media. But as we stand at the precipice of this new transformative step, the harsh reality sets in.

Virtual reality is facing format wars that will make Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD look paltry. There’s a lack of compelling content paired with a below-par install base, which creates a chicken-and-the-egg vortex that’s hard to escape. Costs are going to remain high, but the hardware shelf-life will stay short while the technology improves at a breakneck pace.

So when assessing the state of VR, I came to realize that the budding industry is in desperate need of one thing: VR sunglasses.

I remember in the early 2000s, as an HDTV and general technology enthusiast, seeing high-definition sunglasses in a grocery store one day. While on one hand, the entire notion of a “high-definition” sunglass got my blood boiling (how exactly glasses relate pixel count to human vision still boggles my mind), there was also a realization that this was it. This was the tipping point. While immediate purchase intent for an HDTV was up in the air for most people (and remained that way for many years), the inevitability of eventual purchase intent was locked in.

VR is currently facing a similar predicament to HDTV in the early days. How exactly do you market something that has to be experienced to be understood?

I recall the ads for HD TVs that would air on SD programming, which were quite simply an experiment in mass confusion. For VR, YouTube certainly helps — VR reaction videos are great viral marketing. But we need VR to become synonymous with “better,” much as “HD” was in the early 2000s, and “4G” in the early 2010s.

This will happen. Large budgets are going to be thrown against selling VR to the masses this year. Commercial releases of the Oculus CV1 and the HTC Vive are great, but the ad dollars are really going to pour in once Sony starts marketing its PlayStation VR, and the more powerful PlayStation 4k to help power it.

We’re probably less than two years from “VR” being misappropriated for everything from sunglasses to headphones, and that’s a great thing. Because if VR sunglasses are inevitable, so is the VR revolution.

Your VR reaction of the week:

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