Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are the recent emergence of consumer-ready technologies. These new technologies display immersive multimedia or computer-simulated contents, replicate an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact in that world. From strapping on the headset, grabbing the hand controllers, users could experience the magic power of going to a whole new world.
These fancy and cool stuffs named VR as the umbrella term for all these immersive experiences. VR is going to change the way to see the multimedia videos, play games and training contents. With more applications and use cases to be created, the new business models and services will continuously change our everyday life.
In the recent Taipei Game Show held in March 2017, major global brands, Internet giants and some local system makers aggressively tried to explore VR's potential. Most of the media report mentioning VR gaming experience and entertainment subjects, which present a superb user experience and beyond the audiovisual performance that PC or TV could provide. IDC forecasted the VR or AR headset devices will reach 99.4 million units in 2021 and nearly the 10-fold of the total shipment in 2016. They are expected to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58% from 2016 to 2021.
While game developers are leading the way in promoting VR, many learning designers see virtual reality as a revolutionary tool for accelerating skill acquisition. For instance, VR can be used like a simulator for any technical task that's too dangerous, expensive, or inconvenient to practice in real life.
Daryl Sartain, Director and VR Worldwide Head of AMD, talks about VR presence and market development in this interview. He is also the Founder and Chair of the ITA VR Advisory Council. While VR's revolution has seemed stalled for years, we saw some important launches of several major branded VR headsets and titles in 2016. Sartain has no doubts at all to see the VR becoming a real not only for the technical reasons but also from the application point of view. Today, with various use case scenarios and applications, plus multiple innovations and business models in different domains, VR is stepping into a booming market sector, he added.
Professional VR solutions jumping with high demands
Sartain indicates the difference of last one year and a half of VR industry is the commitment from the enterprises and ecosystems around the world and the belief of executives. This makes VR as a worldwide interests and gains momentum to take further steps beyond the categories of video gaming and entertainment titles. The passionate video gaming players contribute the visibility of VR. However, it is expanding toward many new territories including enterprises, business organizations, medical institutes and training associations.
These new booming demands get attentions from domain experts, industrial designers, equipment manufacturers, contents creating and platform service providers. They are aiming to provide future development with creativity to fit many different forms. The question for VR right now is how it will evolve or how fast, in what direction it will go.
Talked about the technical challenges of VR, many people uses the early design of headset caused the nauseated or unstable feeling when moving around. The good news is these questions have been well considered with recent VR headset design. And new development VR technologies, we are going to see many different innovation of hardware and software implementation focus on eye tracking, peripherals or hand controllers, tracking multiple people or interacting socially. These technologies help boosting transient and evolution to create more real use cases for ecosystems, hardware, software developers, and system makers reaching new audiences and rapidly grow its market.
In the old days, most efforts and resources were invested to differentiate with the competitors or found partners to do different products. But In VR sectors, said Sartain, people are coming continuously with different ideas and concepts. Because so many requests and developments in ecosystems or partners, the biggest challenge for AMD VR teams is finding the best solution among these many products. From industrial design, silicon solutions and software hardware development, those seem to reach some stable ownership recently in the market. But until now, there is no single company taking a real lead in VR today. The entire VR industry is so far from the steady state and continuing to evolve. Everyone in the market is trying to participate or being relevant to VR.
AMD investing resources in non-gaming VR industry
The new categories such as design, commercial training, and medical applications are really boosting by the VR. The professional applications including industrial, architectural, aerospace and automotive design have been long time with complete digital tool sets or CAD/CAM software solutions on hands doing the high complex design works.
People from Wall Street, as another good example, have used 4 or 5 screens around to help them to track different financial data. If you calculate the power consumption and the expanse to spend for purchasing the panels, VR will have a very good chance to enter these various segments when people to participate the daily activities. And the same idea will apply to the education, with new applications designed to help teachers visualize different lessons or multimedia contents to high school or college students. VR is going to be becoming an everyday tool in various industries.
VR is not only the gaming only. Medical, education or other high complex design professions are starting to look at VR solutions for fitting the future needs. It will go across every industry and ecosystem. With VR technologies continuing evolved, it is going to impact the ecosystems when different customize design or semi-customized design to be implemented for those varied demands. The gaming is obviously gonna happen in the market and AMD continues to support them. But it is important for AMD to deliver the messages in non-gaming industry.
The questions for VR will be how soon it will come and what direction it will go. It is very difficult to say at this moment. With the full product lines of silicon solutions, AMD will engage and support the ecosystems for designing a lot more solutions in different price points, performance and use cases. AMD's silicon solutions will continue to provide more performance.
AMD is fully committed to support Asia
Asia market such as Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea areas, is the single largest consumers of consuming emerging technologies in the world, Sartain noted. AMD is fully committed to provide best support for them. And there are more and more government sponsored industrial associations or consortiums with strong desire to play an important role in the VR industry. AMD is also involving, participating and Asia to strengthen the partnership in different Asia countries. With the efforts of ecosystems and partners, AMD tries to unlock the limits and boundaries of VR to satisfy different demands in the market.
Daryl Sartain, AMD’s Director of Virtual Reality, sees VR is trending positively.