Some days ago, while browsing the Facebook group VIRTUAL REALITY, I found a post comparing the Gartner Hype Cycle 2017 and 2018. The results of the comparison were basically two:
- Augmented Reality has not moved in the graph;
- Virtual Reality has disappeared.
I found this pretty interesting: last year, VR was going towards the right side of the graph and this year it is completely absent… so, what has happened?
Before answering this question, I’ll just introduce the Gartner Hype Cycle for people not knowing it. Gartner is one of the most famous market analysis firms and every year it releases a graph, called the Hype Cycle, highlighting the current state of all the emerging technologies. It has been noticed that every cool and disruptive technology follows the same path:
- At first, the technology gets invented;
- After a while, everyone starts becoming hyped about it, having exaggerated expectations about it;
- After all this enthusiasm, people realize that this technology can’t solve all the problems of the world and so become disappointed about it;
- After this little rollercoaster, people realize what this technology is actually useful for and start using it for those purposes;
- The technology becomes mature and gets employed to solve real problems.
All technology follow more or less this graph: some of them will follow it in a faster way, others in a slower one, but it is something that happens every time.
Gartner release every year a graph showcasing at which stage of this “hype cycle” the various emerging technologies are and also indicates an estimate of when the various technologies will reach the maturation stage. This helps business people in having realistic expectations on when these technology will actually become useful and also helps investors in deciding when is the right moment to invest in the various technologies of the future.
I started this post talking about the two Gartner graphs for 2017 and 2018. Well, here you are:
As you can see, Augmented Reality in the last two years has been in the “disillusionment stage”, when people are disappointed by the fact that the technology will not be able to do everything that people have dreamt about it. It has moved slightly towards the right side, but actually it hasn’t walked more than some millimeters. Virtual Reality, instead, was going towards the right part of the graph in 2017 and this year it has disappeared.
I was wondering why, so I contacted directly Gartner to have an explanation and a spokesperson has answered me with an excerpt of this year’s report:
Virtual Reality – This technology is rapidly approaching a much more mature stage, which moves it off the emerging technology class of innovation profiles
I was excited by reading this: one of the greatest market analysis firms believes that virtual reality is not an emerging technology anymore, but it is a mature one. And honestly, I couldn’t agree more. In the enterprise sector, virtual reality has already lots of scenarios where it gets employed with success, like for instance:
- Education (see all my posts about Chinese educational startups);
- Video collaboration;
I recently published a post with some results that HTC Immersive Labs has obtained while using Virtual Reality to enhance training and education: quantitative data proves that virtual reality is useful in this sense. Virtual Reality has many applications in which it is already useful. I know that these are things that we all Virtual Reality enthusiasts know, but the fact that such a firm certifies that is in my opinion very important. A lot of business people trust Gartner and if it says that virtual reality is a mature technology, they will all believe so. I think that this will increase the trust of the business ecosystem towards VR.
BUT, honestly, while I agree with Gartner on the enterprise side, I don’t agree on the consumer side. Reading the various XR magazines, I think that the consumer world is some years behind the enterprise world. VR is in the disappointment phase: I think that you, as me, are reading in this period a lot of articles that say that virtual reality is just a gaming device, it is not usable by consumers, it is not innovating anymore, it is dying as in the 90s, etc… And at the same time you’re reading that AR is the future, and also the present since mobile AR has bazillions people that can use it: consumer AR is in the period of inflated expectations, even if it is descending towards the disappointment (“mobile AR has bazillions of potential users”… but who is using it now?? Magic Leap has created lots of hype, but in the end it is just a dev-kit). So, the situation, in my opinion, is very different from the graphs depicted above.
I think that when VR devices will become lighter, cheaper, more user friendly and more useful (thanks to non-gaming apps), people will start realizing why they are useful for and so the consumer VR technology will start going towards the right part of the graph, too. It will just take time. But for now, let’s just enjoy this little success 🙂
(Header image by HTC)
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