As a race, we humans have finally hit the wall. Reality just doesn’t cut it anymore. We need virtual realty ( VR ), augmented reality. mixed reality. It’s evolution. It’s progress. It’s what all the cool kids are talking about. And it’s about to be a huge business opportunity.
Last fall Forbes reported that more than $4 billion had been invested in virtual reality since 2010.
That actually doesn’t seem too overwhelming a figure for such a high-tech sci-fi type of enterprise, and it seems much lower when you consider that $2 billion of that was Facebook buying Oculus, the maker of the Oculus Rift VR headset that has been the talk of VR enthusiasts for the last few years but still hasn’t made a breakthrough.
Then there was the much hyped but then much maligned Google Glass, the first really big thing in augmented reality, which also failed to make any serious headway. So should you investigate a job in any of these alternate reality fields, or are we still tears away from anyone finding anything viable? As is almost always the case, following the money is a good clue to the answer.
Depending on which Venture Beat article you believe, the VR industry could be worth either $30 billion or $120 billion by 2020. That’s only four short years from now, and even if you go with the smaller estimate it’s a big opportunity. Investments in the space are picking up, and the broader applications for the technology are starting to be discussed and understood more as well.
The first thing that jumps to most people’s minds when they hear the phrase ‘virtual reality’ is video games, and rightly so. Gaming as an industry has exploded in the past decade and shows no sign of slowing. Who would have thought, back when we were playing our Gameboys and our original Playstation consoles, that today there would be people being paid to play video games professionally around the world, or that there would be television broadcasts where we could watch others playing? Yet here we are. And VR in the gaming world is an attainable Holy Grail.
There is also the work NextVR is doing is broadcasting sports events, concerts, and more in virtual reality, allowing us to watch Michael Phelps make Olympic Gold Medal history or U2 playing a show in Vegas from our couches in much more detail than the pitiful 4KHD on our big screens. And education might see some of the biggest benefits. Imagine students being able to take a practically-in-person tour of the Parthenon or the Pyramid of Giza without the hassles of passports and TSA pat-downs?
So where will the payday be? Well, unless you’re an investor or a hardware creator, the answer is obviously development and advertising. The CEO of VR advertising platform Immersv believes that a year from now developers in VR will be able to make up to $50,000 a day from ads. And VR video sponsorship deals can break the $1 million mark already.
Is there money to be made in VR? Maybe not in a widespread way today. But if you believe the prognosticators in the business, today is the day to start looking for jobs in VR, and in the coming years you might be rolling in it.