Is virtual reality expensive?

Look past the price and you’ll find the biggest piece of technology to hit the channel in the past decade, argues VIP Computers managing director Rich Marsden.

I’ve heard many comments recently about how expensive virtual reality is, but I am not sure what these comments are based on.

At the recent CES show, I was lucky enough to demo both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive products, and I have to say the experience blew me away.

If you ignore the price tag for a moment, the technology is the biggest thing to hit our sector in the last 10 years.

We had 3D glasses a few years back, but virtual reality is on a totally different level today.

For those who previously tried on virtual reality headsets and were left somewhat underwhelmed, I would encourage you to retry them now. Two years on, the experience is richer and much more immersive than it was before.

With such a vivid experience available and the applications so immense, an early adopter price sub-£500 is well within what I would deem reasonable.

If you think about the amount of money poured into virtual reality, the millions of pounds invested in research and development to bring these innovations to market, and deliver visionary technology to the masses, is £500 expensive?

For example, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 graphics card retails at around £500 and we sell these in the thousands. Having new technology within this price bracket is what I would expect.

The market for virtual reality is already huge – but my belief is that gaming will only be a small part of the overall picture.

Education and training will form the main part of the demand for virtual reality.

If you can educate the next generation using virtual reality instead of books or video content, then this will be a very worthwhile investment indeed.

Instead of reading about World War II, you could experience the battlefield through virtual reality.

In addition, the same is true for training. I read an article around the uses of virtual reality and learnt that the Royal Navy will use it to train recruits about the ship they will sail on.

Rather than send them aboard ships, they will educate them from the classroom first with significant cost savings.

Eventually, the general public will be able to use VR to view possible homes for purchase or holiday destinations – the opportunities really are endless.

With this in mind, I think if anything, the product is cheaper than I anticipated it would be.

Remember that, as with all technology hardware, the price will only ever come down.

In the longer term, I anticipate the price tag settling at around the £200 to £250 mark, if not less. This will make virtual reality much more accessible to the masses.

Rich Marsden is managing director at VIP Computers.

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