As the three leading VR formats - Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony PlayStation VR – reach the consumer market, three in four UK consumers have heard of VR, according to research published by CONTEXT, the European IT market analysis company. The survey was taken by more than 2,500 individuals from the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy – and while three-quarters of those surveyed are aware of VR, similar numbers also felt they didn’t really understand it and would wait before investing in hardware.
The Wider Potential For VR
It’s encouraging that consumers are quick to recognise the wider potential of the technology, which has largely been driven by the gaming sector so far. 51 per cent of participants in the European survey said they’d relish the opportunity to experience something they would never do in real life, such as skydiving.
One in ten participants are convinced that VR has the potential to revolutionise the way we live, which is a staggeringly high proportion for such a nascent technology.
A Sporting Chance
Sport is the biggest draw for VR, with 60 per cent of those surveyed excited about viewing a match as if they were really there. The NBA embraced the technology last year by streaming live matches, culminating in this year’s watershed VR documentary, FOLLOW MY LEAD: The Story of the 2016 NBA Finals on the Samsung Gear VR. You can also view the US Open via the NextVR app. And sports VR isn’t just taking off in the States; Britain’s BBC explored 360 video for the recent Olympics in Rio, and you can view the F1 VR Experiences from Sky VR Studios, who will launch a dedicated VR app later this year.
Education And Other Serious Stuff
In the UK, 56 per cent feel that VR has serious applications in fields such as medicine, science, and education. Nearly half of participants were positive about the chance to experience historical reconstructions, while nearly a quarter thought that private counselling from the comfort of your own home offers massive benefits.
With every new technology comes a race to the front of the marketplace – and just like VHS and Betamax, or DVD-Audio and SACD, VR has its players. Half of those surveyed have already experienced Google Cardboard, with 43 per cent saying that an untethered smartphone headset would be their preferred way to use VR.
When asked which VR product they would most likely purchase, 18 per cent of UK consumers are backing console VR with Sony’s PS VR, while the more expensive PC-based Oculus Rift only claimed 10 per cent of the potential market.
VR At What Cost?
European consumers are excited by the potential of VR, but 39 per cent of those surveyed feel that current costs are too high. When asked how much they would be willing to spend on their first VR headset, 37 per cent prefer to pay nothing (!) for the headset, while 21 per cent would spend less than £100. But more encouragingly, more than a third would consider spending between £100 and £200.
Almost a quarter of British participants saw themselves using a VR headset once or twice a week, with a further third saying they’d use a headset once or twice a month. Across the channel however, five per cent of French participants said they would use VR every other day, with six per cent of Italians joining them.
A Reductivist Summary
Three-quarters of those surveyed know about VR, half recognise its potential beyond gaming, a third would spend up to £200 on hardware, and a quarter have already decided which hardware platform they’d like to buy. Based on the findings of this survey, we’d have to conclude that the European market already has one eye on VR – and the other on its wallet.
You can read the full press release about the CONTEXT European VR survey here.