The worldwide adoption of VR technology is within reach. For one, the quality of the content and hardware gets better. The cost becomes more affordable for people and enterprises too. There’s only one concern left. The hardware we use needs a super fast connection to make the technology accessible anytime, anywhere. VR technology needs 5G.
What holds VR back
Most businesses who use a high-end VR system are still dependent on a room or location-based setups. These cost a significant amount of money. You need to invest in a few high-end headsets (usually tethered) and a computer with an expensive graphics card. You also need room to set up all your equipment, whether it’s in your office or in an expo booth.
There are a few improvements tho. Today, there are standalone headsets which run even without a computer. These possess accurate inside-out tracking technology, which makes them as powerful as the tethered ones. Without the wires, you can carry them with you anywhere (like your smartphone). The problem is that these headsets can’t physically handle a modern graphics card which is too big, power-consuming, and overheating.
Cloud computing is the key. The tech world dreams of putting both graphics card and computer chip to the cloud, and connect them wirelessly to the VR headset. When this happens, tethered headsets will be obsolete because there’s no need to connect the headset to the computer. No more external trackers because everything is built-in, and the headset’s weight would be as light as your smartphone.
To get to cloud computing, we need a super fast connection to the graphics chips that wouldn’t interfere with the VR experience… We need 5G technology.
Slowly but surely
The thing is… the immersive tech industry will get there soon.
For one, telecommunications companies like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile already started building 5G networks. The VR hardware manufacturers now need to create devices to exploit that speedy connection.
Second, some companies are preparing to put computing power into the cloud. Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) recently launched an extended reality platform for mobile devices, which encompasses AR, VR, and MR. They developed an XR viewer in their Snapdragon 855 chip, which connects smartphones to new headsets.
We first saw this technology in HTC VIVE’s newest headset called Cosmos. It’s wired, but it connects to both VR-capable computers and smartphones. When connected to a smartphone, Cosmos is a wireless device.
Apart from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 platform, there’s HTC’s 5G Hub. We expect that this will be the centrepiece of HTC’s upcoming VR hardware. We may be cloud-connected before we even know it.
Next-Gen VR headsets
As 5G technology powers the VR industry, expect the next generation of headsets to be more powerful. In the next few years, more promising brands will emerge and produce hardware that competes with HTC, Oculus, Sony, Microsoft, and other huge brands.
The next generation of VR headsets won’t need computers with a high-power graphics card. Fast internet connection is enough to render surreal VR content.
And, headsets will become a content-delivery device, not a display-only device. Since VR’s ecosystem is in the cloud, we don’t need to run software platforms on our mobile phone or PC to use our headsets. It will work independently.
When this happens, VR headsets become a commodity, much like smartphones. Then, worldwide adoption comes next.