Why Virtual Reality (VR) is yet to go mainstream in India?

Virtual Reality (VR) has heralded many exciting possibilities across the globe. Here are some advancements that depict the increasing popularity of VR in India:

1 – At TedX Hyderabad 2015, Kshitij Marwah unveiled the first ever 360 Virtual Reality camera made in India

2 – PVR and HP launched India’s first Virtual Reality lounge

3 – The first VRGame was unveiled in late 2016

These interesting developments showcase India’s tech prowess in VR and AR. We are yet to see a full-fledged adoption of VR in various aspects like training, education, entertainment, safety and industrial uses.

 The positive signals

India has seen the rise of as many as 170 AR/VR startups in recent years. This segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 76% in next 5 years.

Startups like GazeMatic (to teleport users via an Android app when on a call), Loop fit (providing AR/VR based indoor fitness solutions), CHRP-INDIA (providing eLearning solutions with immersive VR experiences) and GreyKernel (known for its hit product IRA VR) are some AR/VR studios that have been in the limelight with their innovative solutions.

(also read: How VR can be used as a training tool?)

 What are the concerns?

Despite having a good adoption rate and tech progress, the fact remains that India lags behind its counterparts like China, US, and Japan and the key. Reasons include-

1. Nascent Infrastructure

The infrastructure has not yet come up to match other nations ahead in the race. The lack of 4G penetration is one of the biggest factors for slow adoption in India and it is just 12% of the total mobile subscriptions (2017)

2. Businesses are yet to embrace VR fully

Many companies are designing ROI justification and proof of concept rather than providing full-fledged solutions. Since, it is early stages at business and solutions delivery end, it makes difficult to justify ROI that one can expect from investing in VR solution.

3. Hardware support

While many companies and startups are fast marchings ahead in terms of content development and custom VR solutions, however the problem arises is in the hardware components. The market is in the hands of a few big players like Sony, Google, and HTC.

4. Consumer perception needs an upheaval

Novelty, Luxury, Unaware –  some of the terms associated with VR in the minds of the general consumers. The perception needs to go for an overhaul.

5. Talent shortage

Be it in content creation, integration, or software solutions development, the VR talent market is yet to pick up. The scarcity of talent too is preventing the full realization of VR sector.

What can help in improving the situation?

1. Better bandwidth

VR is known to be quite demanding in terms of bandwidth resources/ with the impending 5G rollout worldwide by 2020, this challenge may cease to exist. India’s adoption of 5G technology can signal an acceleration for the VR sector here.

2. Better industry support

The industry needs to provide more use cases and VR success stories with an emphasis on diverse industry verticals and proven examples of operational efficiencies, customer engagement, and cost-effectiveness

3. Better knowledge sharing

The presence of investor-backed funding can go a long way in marketing needs for a VR startup’s USP. This can help in customer education and knowledge sharing over popular platforms. In turn, this will help expand the outreach and public awareness of VR’s potential.

To conclude there is an entire ecosystem that can drive VR to the next level of growth in India. Right from hardware platforms, VR content, and 5G bandwidth, to mobility, smartphone penetration, and display mediums, the development of these together will spell better success stories for VR sector in India.

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