Many following the resurgence of VR starting with Oculus’ 2012 Kickstarter have bet their careers that VR and AR will be a disruptive technology, but sometimes it takes buy-in from one of the world’s largest and most influential investment banks to prove to the rest of the world that you aren’t crazy.
It’s actually a problem many with the VR bug are probably familiar with when talking to people who have never used virtual reality: because it’s nearly impossible to understand without trying it for yourself, people in the VR sphere who tell outsiders that “this is going to change the world” just sound like ever other person who has uttered those words (99.99% of which are dead wrong). Lots of forced smiling and nodding takes place during these conversations.
But now the VR-crazed have a slightly more compelling argument to wield in the face of disbelievers: Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s most influential investment banks, is calling virtual and augmented reality “the next generation computing platform.”
A new video from the company has Heather Bellini, Business Unit Leader in Telecommunications, Media and Technology, saying that the company believes to VR and AR market will reach $80 billion by 2025, roughly the size of the current desktop PC market.
“While today virtual reality is primarily thought of as a place for hardcore gamers to spend their spare time, it’s increasingly impacting sectors that people touch every day,” says Bellini. “For example, in real-state: instead of having to go see 50 homes with an agent over the weekend, you might be able to put on a pair of virtual reality glasses or a head mounted display at your realtors office and be able to do a virtual walk-through of what those properties look like and therefore maybe you could eliminate 30 out of 50 on your list and be much more efficient with your time.”
What Bellini is describing of course is what’s known as a disruptive technology: one that doesn’t just let us do new things, it changes the way we do everything else too. The smartphone is among the most recent disruptive technologies; for those of you reading this on a smartphone right now, just 10 years ago you probably didn’t even own one. Now it’s something that’s integral to your daily life.
Goldman Sachs thinks VR and AR could be just as important.
“We think this technology has the potential to transform how we interact with almost every industry today, and we think it will be equally transformative both from a consumer and an enterprise perspective,” she says. “At the end of the day we think VR and AR will be as transformation as the smartphone market.”
Goldman Sachs also anticipates and defends what I identified as one of the three most common arguments against VR (and why they’re wrong): the notion that VR ‘already failed’, and what’s different now compared to the tech from the ’80s and ’90s.
“What’s different about virtual reality today versus, say, 10 years ago when people thought this was going to become mainstream, is that the technology has started to catch up,” says Bellini. “We have processor speeds—things like Moore’s Law have really transformed chip speed—graphics cards have gotten more powerful, so you’re [able] to see the number of frames per second that your eyes need to see so that you don’t feel queasy as you’re starting to use these types of devices.”
For everyone out there who smiled and nodded when I told them VR is going to change the world: I’m tempted to say ‘I told you so’, but I’m much more excited for you to experience the technology and see the light for yourself.