When it comes to glasses for AR, everyone is not as unfamiliar as before. At first, it may be that Tony Stark, who you saw in “Iron Man”, used AR virtual reality technology to project the suit and parts to the eyes, showing 3D virtual transparency. Screen, human-computer interaction through more natural methods such as voice and gestures… I first learned about AR technology. Now, the glasses for AR that major AR/VR companies are constantly launching, various AR applications, and famous scenes in movies are gradually coming into our lives. Since then, concepts such as “augmented reality (AR)” and “virtual reality (VR)” have entered the public eye.
Around 2015, everyone cheered “the first year of VR/AR”, and the VR/AR industry also ushered in a peak period of development: entrepreneurial teams entered the market one after another, and venture capital enthusiasm was high; in 2016 and 2017, the VR/AR industry was still highly regarded Capital is sought after; after 2018, the AR/VR industry has entered a “cold winter” in an instant, with a decline in the popularity of capital and large-scale closure of start-ups.
With the rapid development of 5G infrastructure in 2020, AR/VR is regarded as the “first flashpoint” of 5G detonation. How will AR/VR return to the public eye? What kind of AR/VR industry prospects will Gudong Technology Co., Ltd., which has survived the “trough period”, face?
1. 5G may promote equipment innovation
Every new technology matures through a long process. In this process, they will encounter various problems and will be questioned by the outside world, and the same is true for AR/VR.
The VR/AR industry experienced a “capital fever” in 2016, but it gradually cooled down due to the immature timing. The sales of VR/AR devices also declined: From 2016 to 2018, the shipments of VR headsets were 9 million, 7.8 million, and 5.5 million, respectively, and the sales volume decreased year by year. The main reason for the decrease in sales is that since the launch of the first generation of headsets, consumers have been dissatisfied with the performance of the devices and have withdrawn from the VR/AR market.
The first-generation VR/AR equipment looks cool, but it has no conditions to make it a product with good experience and apply it to a certain scene; around 2018, most manufacturers released the second-generation products. Although there have been innovations in technology, the experience of the device still needs to be improved.
Since VR/AR devices entered the market, the poor user experience of the devices has become an important obstacle to the commercial application and market development of VR/AR. The main reasons for this problem can be attributed to three points: first, the headset is too heavy and uncomfortable to wear for a long time; second, the visual experience is not good; third, the usable functions are single. As a result, start-ups are trying various methods to reduce the weight and improve the picture quality of the device.
5G networks can solve the problem of overweight equipment. Once the 5G network construction is mature, the computing module in the VR/AR head-mounted device terminal can be placed in the cloud through the “cloud” + “terminal” method, simplifying and reducing VR/AR head-mounted display products.
The internal structure of VR/AR devices is very complex, including display chips and drivers, position sensors, visual perception sensors, batteries, and complex computing chips. Some of the chips in the VR/AR device will be responsible for image rendering and complex computing, and some of the chips will also be responsible for communication tasks. This structure will cause the VR/AR equipment to be too heavy and overheated. The large bandwidth, high speed and low latency of the 5G network can effectively solve this problem.
In the future, VR/AR devices can use 5G networks to put “content storage”, “scene-aware computing” and “image rendering” in the cloud, and local devices only need to have image acquisition, codec transmission and presentation functions. In this way, VR/AR devices can be developed to be lightweight, the user experience will be significantly improved, and the cost will be greatly reduced.
In terms of improving picture quality, the large bandwidth feature of 5G will still play a role. When you watch the video, you will see the words “standard definition”, “high definition” and “ultra high definition”. When network conditions are not good, mainstream video platforms will prompt users to adjust the “picture quality”. The reason why the platform does this is because the picture quality and network speed are closely related.
The quality of the video is related to the “bit rate”. How much data the network can transmit in unit time directly affects the “code rate”. Therefore, network quality directly affects video quality. Generally speaking, the “Blu-ray” video of the mainstream video platform in China has a bit rate of about 1-2Mbps. Moreover, the average network speed in my country is much higher than this bit rate, so users have no problem watching “Blu-ray” videos.
To a certain extent, the 5G network has cleared the obstacles to the commercial use of VR/AR equipment, and has also promoted the development of the VR/AR industry. So, will there be real consumer-grade products in the 5G era?
2. B-side applications can reach trillions of scale
Clarity, fluency, and interactivity are the three major factors that affect VR/AR experience. 5G networks have greatly improved the resolution and fluency of head-mounted display devices. However, in order to improve the human-computer interaction experience, it is not enough to simply reduce the weight of the device.
When experiencing AR devices, most users will report that they feel “dizzy”, and this problem can directly affect consumers’ purchasing behavior.
From a technical point of view, 20 milliseconds is a golden line for human perception. If the delay is less than 20 milliseconds, users will not experience “dizziness”.
However, “time delay” is not the main factor for “dizziness”. In addition to this, both “optical parameters” and “content comfort” can cause “AR vertigo”. At present, this technology can solve the problems of “time delay” and “optical parameters”.
Therefore, high-quality content has become another key factor in the development of the VR/AR industry.
The impact of 5G on the AR/VR content industry will not explode in a short period of time, but requires an accumulation process. The development of the VR film and television industry relies more on the three major elements of “increasingly mature experience equipment”, “lower and lower experience costs” and “continuous high-quality content”.
In terms of content, VR video content is still in a niche market. Consumers’ acceptance of VR content and VR devices is related to their living habits, and it is difficult to change in the short term.
Therefore, it will take time for consumer-grade VR/AR products to enter thousands of households. In the next 1-2 years, the VR/AR industry still does not see the opportunity for large-scale application in the C-end market, and it still needs to be immersed in the B-end industry for a period of time.
Compared with the C-end market, VR/AR has a huge space in the B-end market. Take the AR market as an example. As of 2018, the AR market was valued at $11.14 billion and is expected to reach $60.55 billion by 2023. Rising demand from retail, marketing, and healthcare industries is the main driver for the AR market.
Among them, the marketing scene is gradually moving towards formalized development. In marketing scenarios, AR technology can help improve traffic conversion rates. Shopify has found that customers viewing 3D products in AR can increase conversion rates by up to 250%.
For the large-scale implementation of AR/MR, in addition to 5G, there is also a crucial infrastructure: MR high-precision maps. At present, many companies around the world have invested heavily. MR high-precision maps are like web pages in the Internet era, which can create a one-to-one digital space in the real world as the infrastructure for information media, and use consumer-grade cameras such as mobile phones/glasses as an intelligent information retrieval engine to provide everyone in the 5G era. The WYSIWYG space Internet service creates a value that is 10 times and 100 times higher than that of the mobile Internet.
From equipment to content to applications, the AR/VR industry has washed away its brilliance and gradually matured. To a certain extent, the 5G network does solve the existing problems of the VR/AR industry, but the VR/AR industry still needs its own efforts to develop on a large scale. This time, VR/AR companies see the development of the industry more rationally and clearly know that the B-end market has more development opportunities. The spatial Internet and MR high-precision maps bring unprecedented possibilities in the 5G era. AR marketing is only a branch of many application scenarios, and its market size can reach trillions. In addition, there are MR digital twin smart cities and other more big scene. It can be seen that the potential of VR/AR in the B-end market is limitless.