ailed as “the year of virtual reality”, companies invested a whopping US$3.5bn (€3.1bn, £2.7bn) in technology globally in 2016. According to research by Goldman Sachs, virtual reality (VR) startups alone experienced a 347 per cent increase in funding compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, Deloitte also estimated that 2016 was the first “billion-dollar year” for VR, with consumer sales on hardware reaching US$700m (£547m, €644m) and a further US$300m (£234m, €276m) being spent on content. Deloitte identified VR as one of six major digital technology trends for consumer-facing businesses. It was also a year in which VR and its varieties – augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) – truly entered the public’s awareness, thanks to the unprecedented success of Pokémon Go.
Immerse guests in virtual, augmented and mixed realities. Let them hang out with robots while drones take them to new heights. Tom Walker looks at the daring new wave of next-gen tech
High-level VR is now available at home – increasing pressure on visitor attractions
ONE STEP AHEAD Virtual reality is likely to become ever more widespread and popular, putting visitor attractions operators under increased pressure to keep ahead of the curve when updating their offering. “At-home” entertainment providers have already upped the stakes with their
VR offering in the past two years, and a high-level of VR is now available at home through the likes of Oculus Rift, Sony Playstation, HTC and Samsung. The Global VR & AR Industry Report by RnRMarketResearch forecasts that by 2020, the VR sector will be worth
132 ATTRACTIONS HANDBOOK 2017-2018
US$30bn (£22.7bn, €26.7bn) and the AR market an even greater US$90.8bn (£68.9bn, €80.9bn). It’s likely that large technology companies will even begin muscling in on a sector so far dominated by smaller, pioneering tech companies. “Large companies will gradually build the perfect VR ecosystem,” the report suggests. “PC VR products, primarily games and movies, will be targeted at expert players and game enthusiasts. Mobile VR products will gradually move into business fields like education and tourism. As the number of content development teams increases, the scope of VR will broaden.” There’s already plenty of evidence – Japanese tech giant Sony has filed a patent for a new kind of AR technology, while other behemoths such as Google and Microsoft have launched into the market with their Tango and HoloLens products. Apple has also been considering its line of attack; reports suggest that CEO Tim Cook is serious about AR development in the near future.
SERVING THE VISITOR As well as its use in rides and exhibitions, VR can be used to enhance the overall www.attractionshandbook.com
The global resource for attractions professionals