3 Reasons Mobile VR Is About to Go Mainstream in a Major Way

mobile VR

The mobile virtual reality market is on a fast track to become mainstream for smartphone users. The global VR market is expanding at an explosive rate. The inclusion of built-in virtual reality technology on mobile devices is the key driver behind this tremendous growth. It has been supporting growing demand for VR applications for consumer use, business operations and economic sectors ranging from retail and healthcare to e-commerce and the automotive industry. Here are three reasons why mobile VR is ready to go mainstream.

The Hardware Is Ready

The foundation for the mobile VR revolution is the emergence of VR-ready mobile hardware. Already, leading smartphones and tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8 and the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL are designed to support virtual reality headsets. Meanwhile, Apple is quietly pursuing the development of its own VR/AR headset, along with supporting technology such as a virtual reality-oriented operating system. Apple is pursuing its development on an aggressive timetable, with products projected to be ready to ship by 2020.

Supporting these headsets are mobile processors designed to empower virtual reality. For instance, the mobile processor technology for the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon platforms is specifically designed to support extended reality (XR), which includes VR, AR and augmented virtuality. To achieve this, the latest mobile processors use machine learning to support active depth sensing, a technology that can capture changes in depth of as small as a tenth of a millimeter for a closer simulation of three-dimensional experience. The combination of VR-ready mobile processors with smartphones designed for VR headsets provides a firm foundation for virtual reality to go mobile.

The Infrastructure Is Being Built

The ability to view VR on mobile devices is helping fuel demand for streaming virtual reality content. For instance, NBC streamed 30 events from this year’s Winter Olympics in virtual reality. Professional sports, concerts, political rallies and video games are other examples of content that lends itself well to streaming VR delivery.

In order to make streaming virtual reality content practical for consumers, extremely fast network connections are needed. Efficient 360-degree live streaming requires speeds of 80 megabits per second, but current 4G networks can only reach 50 megabits per second under optimal conditions. The infrastructure to overcome these limitations will be provided by 5G networks currently being built. 5G Wi-Fi connections will deliver speeds in excess of 450 megabits per second, says Cradlepoint EMEA vice president Hubert Da Costa. AT&T has announced plans to roll out 5G in Dallas, Waco and Atlanta by the end of the year, and other major wireless carriers including Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are also pursuing 5G aggressively with plans for implementation between now and 2020.

The Applications Are in Development

Virtual reality hardware and infrastructure innovations are emerging in response to growing demands for VR applications. In 2016, VR applications were dominated by consumer electronics, especially gaming. Consumer electronics use of VR will continue to gain momentum through gaming and videos, driving 64 percent of growth in the media and entertainment industries between now and 2021.

Outside of consumer applications, industrial use accounts for the next-largest segment of VR applications. For instance, the automotive industry is using virtual reality for everything from vehicle design and safety testing to sales. The healthcare industry is using VR to model human anatomy, train surgeons and even guide surgical performance. The retail industry is using VR to provide shoppers with a virtual preview of products and services prior to purchase. Other major emerging applications of VR include aerospace, marketing and education.

VR-ready hardware, the emerging 5G communications infrastructure, and consumer and industrial demand for virtual reality are three of the reasons mobile VR will go mainstream soon. Gaming and entertainment applications are opening the gateway to uses that will permeate every industry from manufacturing to healthcare. Expect VR to become a major part of your smartphone experience within the next few years.

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