Consumers expect virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to convincingly merge with physical reality – and that’s why we’re going to need 5G as soon as possible, according to the latest Ericsson ConsumerLab report on the topic of VR/AR.
The report – titled Merged Reality – reveals that 70% of early adopters expect VR/AR to “change everyday life fundamentally” in six categories: media, education, work, social interaction, travel and retail:
Two in five early adopters believe classrooms and offices will be replaced by virtual spaces. A quarter think AR will enable travel information and map overlays onto our physical environments by next year. Half of early adopters expect AR and VR to be integrated in one device, as a pair of AR glasses with in-built VR capabilities. Even laggards expect VR/AR to deliver new ways of training in industries like air travel, national security and healthcare.
The report notes that media is already being transformed and consumers expect virtual screens to start replacing televisions and theaters in less than a year:
As many as half the early adopters have already increased their video usage in VR. More than a third have shifted some of their video viewing on physical screens to video experiences in VR.
That said, the paradox of VR is that the experience must be a “merged” reality – that is to say, a blend of the virtual and physical worlds that doesn’t cut users off completely from the latter. Current VR headsets don’t deliver that merged experience because they’re bulky and don’t enable sufficient mobility, Ericsson says:
One in five early adopters have already decreased their usage of VR. Half the early adopters believe that the current VR headsets hinder mobility. Almost a fifth also consider sickness caused by VR to be an issue. Even mobile VR users restrict usage mostly to home. Mobility is hindered by battery drain and the fact that the headset blocks the user’s view.
The report also says that early VR/AR adopters expect 5G to play a central role in addressing limitations such as mobility and nausea, as well as deliver a better social experience.
The Merged Reality report from Ericsson ConsumerLab can be downloaded here.