Virtual reality only started as an experimental technology, but changes in consumer behaviour have pushed tech companies to invest heavily in this field. The attention surrounding this technology is at an all-time high with big companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, all trying to gain a competitive edge over each other.
Financial reports show that the Virtual Reality companies raised close to 1.5 billion dollars in venture capital from the start of 2012. All that money is intended to revolutionize the VR technology.
In what is perhaps the most expensive investment in virtual reality, Facebook bought the crowd-funded Oculus Rift for a whopping 2 billion dollars. The Oculus technology is said to
be one of a kind. In a press release in 2015, Oculus warned the consumers that to use the technology, consumers will have to acquire a powerful computer to enjoy the Oculus Rift.
The firm is at an advanced stage of releasing PCs that are compatible with the technology and also working with computer manufacturers to develop affordable PCs going for about 1000 dollars. Facebook’s Oculus is set to be released in April and will retail for 599 dollars or 499 pounds.
However, it looks like Sony is leading the pack in the VR technology niche. So far, Sony has filed 366 patents for its VR products associated with its PlayStation gaming. The company has just recently announced the planned release for the PlayStation virtual reality headset in October. Sony said that the PlayStation VR headset will retail for 349 pounds in the UK and 399 dollars in the US, this makes it the cheapest in the market so far. The VR headset also requires a connection to a high-end computer that will cost around 849$.
Microsoft is not lagging behind either as the company is planning to release its HoloLens into the market. The company has already announced its partnership with Volvo to roll out the technology in cars. Microsoft says that the technology will be available with Windows 10 gaming SDK. They term it as a mixed reality approach as it incorporates aspects of the environment and images. However, Microsoft’s HoloLens is one of the most expensive in the market going for 3000 dollars.
Google, another leader in the tech world has also unveiled VR products in the past. Google Virtual Reality apps are simple to use and they have been integrated to their Google play store. By consequent, the customers who own Android phones can enjoy VR experience as soon as they can.
Samsung is also taking significant strides in that direction. It recently announced a partnership with Facebook, the company aims to stamp its authority in the growing virtual reality niche. With this initiative every Galaxy S7 and S7 edge pre-ordered will come with a free Gear VR headset. The firm is also working on the Samsung’s VR camera.
Other tech firms are also increasingly participating in the game. HTC is a set to launch the HTC Vive. The company plans to release only a limited quantity before it goes large-scale. The HTC Vive is more or less the same as Sony’s VR headsets. As the companies compete for the leadership, we expect the war to be more exciting, but the consumer stands to benefit.