Take a look on eBay or Amazon and you will find that the price of VR devices and headsets are not cheap. In fact, you can have prices range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The better and more cutting edge the technology, the higher the price tag that comes with it.
But if we are to have VR widely distributed, it most come a reasonable cost that is affordable by the masses, correct?
Yes and no.
Yes as the technology advances we will see a reduction in the general price tag attached to it but we will still consider it a premium product that will cost a decent amount even a few years down the line. The reason for this is broken down into two key parts, hardware, and software.
A decent VR headset has two built-for-VR OLED displays with very high refresh rate and pixel density, a very precise tracking system, mechanical adjustment systems that must be lightweight, durable, and precise, and cutting-edge optics that are more complex to manufacture than many high-end DSLR lenses.
Precise tracking, for example, is a key necessity to makes a good VR experience. A Stanford study showed that the graphics can be mediocre, but if the tracking is good, then the user perceives the experience as more realistic. You can read more about Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab’s publications here.
The price of VR: Its all about the R&D
Even after you have done the R&D for the hardware and come out with a very good product, you still are only half done, manufacturers have to then create codes that allow for interaction with their devices and this is just as time-consuming and resource draining as the creation of the hardware.
But the work is still not done, there is more to some.
Content developers and game creators have to then incorporate these features within their titles which in turn means more resources and time consumed to make possible. Plus the more advanced the final device and corresponding apps you can use on the device, the higher the cost of the device will be.
Transfer to end-user
As the end user of this shiny new technology, the cost of all that hard work will be leveraged from your wallet. This is especially so for the first-adopters who want to be on the bleeding edge of this emerging technology.
Yet for those of us that love tech but can’t go out and buy all the latest gadgets the moment they hit the shelves, still, have some hope.
As more and more manufacturers enter the race and more developers build and add VR to their products, the competitive market dynamics will ensure that the pricing remains in the range where it might be a bit expensive but still affordable.
Soon we might just view the purchase of VR devices no more expensive as a premium smartphone and just as necessary.