It would be an understatement to say that 2021 was a big year for VR. First, headset sales jumped by an estimated 7 million units. Then we had a whole bunch of news stories about huge brands and corporations jumping into the industry. With such an eventful year, would it surprise you to know that 2022 will be even bigger?
In this article, we’ll examine some of the biggest trends in VR for this year, make some predictions, and summarize why now is a good time for businesses to start looking for a VR development company that they can partner with.
VR Trends of 2022
There is a lot of noise and buzz around VR, and we are here to organize the clutter into 5 distinct points that give you a full picture of what is happening in the industry.
1) A rise in enterprise apps
If you thought VR is simply a tool for gaming, this is not true in 2022. Yes, VR is still a dominant force in the gaming industry, but it is also a huge asset for businesses all over the world. The most popular uses of VR within companies involve training, remote collaboration, tests and prototyping, but there are also plenty of creative uses that fall outside these categories. It’s safe to say that thousands of these solutions are in development and the impact of virtual reality will be huge.
2) Greater user adoption
Due to misconceptions about the technology, lack of availability, and pricing, users have historically been hesitant to use and invest in VR. But that has quickly turned around. Today, VR has a reputation as something advanced and cool, and for businesses – highly useful. For example, a survey that asked workers which technologies they would prefer to use at their job noted that the majority looked at immersive tech favorably.
3) Major improvements in hardware
If you have been watching the VR headset market, you’ve probably noticed how the products have been getting cheaper, more powerful, and more convenient to wear. For example, the currently most popular headset (Oculus Quest 2) only costs $299.
In 2022, this trend will continue, as products like the “Reality 12K” from Pimax and MeganeX from Panasonic release and shake up the market with their stunning specs. Another notable advancement is the upcoming release of the HTC Vive wrist tracker, since this gadget does not restrict hand movements while providing accurate tracking.
4) Development is easier than ever
It has become incredibly easy for businesses to create VR solutions, and should get even easier in this new year. For one thing, the number of development companies is multiplying year by year, so partnering with a top VR company for app design is quite accessible and prices can be pretty low.
Additionally, the developers themselves can work faster and better because the premiere tools they use (Unity and Unreal engines) are rolling out key new features for VR. For instance, Unreal Engine 5 has rolled out support for OpenXR, a standard for developing applications for multiple VR platforms simultaneously. Thus, a company will be able to use various headsets with the same software solution.
5) More VR-tailored services
We’ve talked a bit about how VR is helping businesses improve their internal processes, but it’s also important to mention how it is helping them make money. In particular, a whole new market of VR services for consumers and businesses is opening up, with pioneers in this field gaining the opportunity to massively profit. One of these pioneers is the fitness firm Liteboxer, which is providing a professional boxing simulator in VR as a premium service.
Metaverse: the big VR story of 2022
While our list of trends paints a comprehensive picture of what is going on in the industry, there is one trend we left out, which deserves a much closer look – the Metaverse. In July 2021, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg announced the creation of the Metaverse, following suit to rename his company to Meta. In the months that followed, dozens of major brands (like Microsoft, Disney, Tencent) also announced their entry into this Metaverse.
If you’re hearing about it for the first time, the Metaverse is essentially a digital world accessed through VR where users can work, play, and do many of the same activities they do in real life. While VR apps have traditionally been standalone programs that a user should close before they launch a new one, all apps and services are interconnected in the Metaverse, providing a smooth and uninterrupted experience.
While 2021 was the year the Metaverse was born, 2022 should be the year when it really starts to grow and take shape. On one hand, we have Meta working with dozens of other companies in creating a single global Metaverse. On the other, we have hundreds of companies exploring the concept and building their own Metaverse – an ecosystem of connected VR apps for use within their business.
Enhanced collaboration is one of the first benefits found for the Metaverse. Users get digital avatars and can collaborate in a much more realistic way. Additionally, this digital world is a great place to visualize information and learn, explore complex topics and objects. We also have to mention how well it serves to simulate various work and life situations as well as products/services for sale.
VR uses in the future: who it benefits
So we know where VR is going in the short term, but what about the long term? Based on the industry trends, we want to look into the far future of virtual reality and make some predictions – how will it be used in 10-15 years?
Full-body motion tracking
For now, VR apps mostly track the movements of our heads and possibly hands (if controllers or gloves are used). In the future, we could see full-body tracking with users wearing a special suit or just attaching some sensors to their clothes. This should be very handy in safety training (e.g. working with heavy equipment) since VR simulators will not only analyze users’ knowledge, but also the precision of their movements.
In the distant future, we could see VR headsets and glasses replace or substitute TV sets and movie theaters. People will be able to get the entertainment they want right in front of their eyes without the need to go anywhere or invest in a giant screen for their home.
The entertainment industry could contribute to this trend by making movies more immersive. They might let people see events unfold from more than one angle, and perhaps influence character choices. Netflix already experimented with this format (although not in VR) with their Bandersnatch movie.
Smart personal assistants
Virtual assistants are already helping us in our phones (e.g. Siri, “Ok Google”), but VR could really evolve them. These assistants will take on a human-ish form and act much more. If people wear VR glasses, these helpers could accompany them through their daily tasks and activities. The implications of this are huge for all industries: if the AI is sufficiently advanced, these programs could provide knowledge, perform customer service, and even help monitor the quality of work.
Playpens for physical activity
One of the current limiting factors of VR is that apps must be designed for very careful and limited user movement (you don’t want the user to move too much due to unseen hazards). However, 10 years from now, everyone could have a playpen where they use VR and also physically move around – run, crouch, jump, etc. without any risk to their health. This would be huge for the gaming and fitness industry, which will jump at the chance to provide a much more engaging experience to their clients.
Now is the time to invest in VR
We’ve given you just a small taste of the future of VR for businesses, so what will your course of action be – stick to familiar technologies and existing solutions, or innovate and provide your clients/employees something more with VR? A custom VR/Metaverse app can work wonders for your business and establish your company as a pioneer in its respective field.
If you make the choice to build a VR app (or at least analyze how feasible it is), your first step should be to contact a reliable partner. For example, Program-Ace has been creating immersive apps for over 6 years, and our work has been recognized and praised by such respected agencies & organizations as Clutch, IAOP, and Goodfirms.
Our team is ready to build a custom solution that meets your business needs and incorporates even the most complex functionality. This might be a standalone training app, some kind of product simulator, or anything else you put your mind to. We can even aid in the creation of your Metaverse. To learn more about our experience and past work, be sure to check out our portfolio.
To learn more about what we offer and how we can help, be sure to send us a message about your project.