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Will 2024 be a VR Year?

Some industry observers might view virtual reality (VR) as a solution to searching for a problem. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious efforts to bring the metaverse to the mainstream, a quest that has left Meta’s shareholders somewhat perplexed. Nevertheless, a closer examination suggests that the Facebook founder may be making a more sound investment than initially anticipated. This extends beyond consumer gaming and social media as the range of enterprise VR applications continues to expand and gain solid footing.

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Apple is on track to launch its Vision Pro mixed reality device in 2024. It would be myopic to assume that this hardware will do anything but pique the interest of developers eager to explore enterprise VR applications. However, the race for higher-performance processors and displays, essential for rendering realistic virtual environments, might be somewhat exaggerated.

VR in Gaming

Whereas the state of gambling remains a matter of discussion across several US states, it is where VR has developed most. Some states are still playing hardball in relation to playing games for real money, but new states are also emerging to give gambling a nod. Connecticut is one of the latest states to legalize several acts of online gambling.

Following a triumphant advocacy effort spearheaded by the state’s governor and local tribal communities, residents now have the opportunity to access Connecticut casino sites and delve into the expanding online gambling landscape in the United States. 

First Time of Trying Enterprise VR

It appears that the performance threshold may have already been surpassed with the introduction of standalone VR headsets like the Quest 2. Users no longer need to connect these headsets to a computer, set up external tracking cameras, or tether them to a battery pack. Device manufacturers and component suppliers will continue to make enhancements, allowing enterprise VR applications to run for more extended periods between charges. This underscores the notion that simpler hardware, which consumes less power than high-end devices like Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro, could be an advantage.

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Meta has already given VR enthusiasts a glimpse of its upcoming Quest 3 device, set to be launched later this year. The metaverse champion held its Meta Connect event on September 27th, where the company shared ‘plenty more’ about the device.

Similar to Apple’s emphasis on the benefits of technology upgrades, Meta is also promoting the advantages of these advancements. However, users of enterprise VR applications are already aware of the substantial benefits. It genuinely creates the illusion of interacting with others in the same room, despite participants being miles apart or even in different countries.

This immersive and memorable VR experience is achieved using hardware that has been readily available for some time. What’s even more promising, especially for those with budget constraints, is that Meta’s latest VR device, the Quest 3, starts at just $499. This pricing is significantly more affordable than what consumers can expect to pay for Apple’s Vision Pro when it becomes available in 2024.

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that developers don’t necessarily require the latest technology to deliver exceptional enterprise VR experiences. The launch of the Quest 3 will likely lead to a decrease in the price of Quest 2 devices as people upgrade and sell their older units.

New Software Update to Boost Performance

Furthermore, Meta has announced that an upcoming software update will enhance the Quest 2’s performance, offering a 26% boost to its CPU and a 19% increase in GPU speed. Even if the Quest 2 was already performing well, these improvements will make it an even more compelling choice for this cutting-edge technology

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However, it’s essential to understand that merely purchasing an affordable headset and pushing software updates isn’t the only challenge. The real complexity lies in navigating the virtual world and determining which design features are effective and which are not. For instance, it was mentioned that the team decided to omit avatars’ legs while developing their enterprise VR platform.

A common assumption in VR app design is to prioritize realism; in some instances, that’s what users desire. However, it has been discovered that including legs on avatars didn’t resonate well with users. People may believe they move gracefully in the real world, but often, there’s a significant gap between their perception of their motion and how it appears to others.

When users could see their legs and feet tracking, it distracted those participating in virtual masterclasses. Removing digital legs and having avatars elegantly float through their surroundings turned out to be the solution.

These valuable lessons help VR software developers advance and create exceptional user experiences, for example when applied to play games on mobile or PC. Technology plays a crucial role, and achieving low-latency performance is essential to prevent users from feeling nauseous during activities like accelerating and braking in virtual driving environments or navigating other dynamic, high-speed situations. 

However, one of the most significant takeaways so far is that the design language for enterprise VR and other commercial augmented and mixed reality apps may not align with initial expectations. Naturally, as more developers join the ecosystem, best practices will emerge, and, akin to the process of designing mobile apps, the most appealing solutions will rise to the top of the download charts.

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