Part 2: Greenlight Insights Reveals the Top Four xR Consumer Hardware Predictions for 2019 and Beyond

J.C. Kuang, Analyst J.C. Kuang, Analyst Augmented Reality, Devices & Technology, Insights, Virtual Reality

See Part 1 of this article here.

Estimates place the worth of the consumer electronics industry at over $270 (18h 0m) billion worldwide. Thanks to the tireless work of engineers, designers, and developers, consumers can carry out computing tasks several times a minute across dozens of devices in a single day.

In 2018, the industry observed some of the first earnest attempts by virtual and augmented reality to capture a portion of this highly profitable and important market. Headsets, controllers, and tracking systems all made great strides in reducing barriers to adoption, and prices reached unprecedented lows. However, xR must still make significant progress in 2019 before it can deliver on its promise of frictionless, fully immersive computing.

Apart from sussing out the top compelling use cases of xR technology, Greenlight Insights expects to see the following developments in xR consumer hardware for 2019:

  1. Even though 2018 saw VR hardware become more specialized and affordable, gradually gravitating away from enthusiasts into mainstream appeal,  major firms will not be primed for mass adoption. Even at this stage, however, the position of leading OEMs has been relatively static, with Oculus and HTC continuing to assert dominance and offer more robust product catalogs at opposing ends of the consumer/enterprise spectrum.  New headsets from both companies are noticeably positioned in such a way that overlap in target markets is reduced.
  2. 6.6 DoF tracking  (6 DoF for both head units and controllers) will take center-stage as the next must-have feature for standalone VR. While not yet a killer value-add for in-home consumers for whom mobility is already restricted by other factors, 6.6 DoF will provide a significant value for location-based and experiential media and entertainment.  2018 saw many important announcements geared toward this trend, such as Oculus Quest, HTC Vive Focus, and Qualcomm's XR1 platform. For the next few years, it will be crucially important for VR and AR technology to effectively take advantage of and supplement traditional computing environments, from desktops to mobile, rather than depend on them for compute power and introduce obtrusive components like tethers.
  3. The increasingly conspicuous lack of available content funding from major xR providers, as well as an ongoing struggle within the industry to develop and propagate viable content monetization strategies, are concerns which consumer hardware providers will have to address sooner rather than later,  in the service of facilitating additional hardware sales. To this end, Greenlight Insights predicts a noticeable uptick in funding and production of native, first-party content and applications from hardware providers in 2019.
  4. Mobile AR is showing no signs of a slowdown going into 2019. The relative accessibility of mobile computing will continue to attract developers and content providers in strong numbers, although hardware and compute power will begin to plateau, forcing OEMs to devise new strategies to increase or offload compute. Local solutions, such as RED’s ill-fated Hydrogen One holographic display, are costly and high-risk, making cloud storage and cloud content delivery more palatable solutions for the immediate future, as component makers search for new avenues to tease out additional power and efficiency into ever-shrinking form factors in on-device computing and displays.