The global demand for virtual reality headsets is accelerating at an incredible rate. Between the years of 2021 and 2028, experts predict a CAGR of 28.2% for the industry, leading to a potential $184.66 value in 2026. Clearly, the VR landscape is exploding.
While there are countless exciting innovations happening in VR tech right now, some are currently capturing more attention than others. To create the most immersive experiences for consumers and companies in the future, designers are experimenting with everything from new kinds of trackers and sensors, to haptic feedback opportunities.
Let’s explore some of the most significant trends leading the way in the VR market for 2022.
1. Photorealistic Avatars
One of the biggest benefits of virtual reality for the enterprise landscape, is its ability to pull employees together from multiple locations in a shared environment. In a hybrid and remote working world, VR can provide an engaging space where people can come together and share important ideas.
Unlike video conferencing, virtual reality has the potential to recreate the “presence” we experience in the physical world – but only when the right technology is available. Photorealistic avatars will allow users to create almost exact “digital twins” of themselves, to place within a VR environment.
Though There are some potential concerns to overcome, like the risk of an “uncanny valley” experience in VR, successful photo-level avatars could help to improve immersion in VR interactions. It could also mean incredible things for the future of healthcare, by allowing doctors to examine a patient from a distance.
2. Headset Displays
Immersive virtual reality headsets are likely to be a crucial investment for creativity and innovation in modern businesses. However, to leverage the biggest benefits of VR, we need access to the best possible displays. Over the years, developers have overcome issues with things like the “screen door” effect and minimal fields of view.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to be done before the experience of interacting in VR feels the same as interacting in real-life. Researchers in Stanford University have even begun looking into ways of making screens more effective, exploring opportunities to create ultra-thin solar panels into displays, capable of creating around 10,000 pixels per inch.
The quality of displays will need to continue improving drastically in the years ahead to tackle issues like VR sickness if teams want to use these headsets for more than just short periods of time. The development of headset displays in the VR hardware environment will also focus on making devices smaller and more lightweight to improve overall ergonomics.
3. Eye Tracking
Tracking features are an essential component of a successful VR experience. For a headset to be effective, it needs to be able to track your movement correctly, allowing you to look around a room. However, it’s more than just head motion that today’s devices need to monitor.
Eye tracking in VR helps to enable a more immersive virtual world, where systems can actively understand what a person is looking at, allowing them to home in more effectively on details.
Eye tracking technology could even be the key to improving the use of bandwidth in VR technologies, as many designers are experimenting with tools which allow software to increase resolution of only the pixels the user is looking at.
This careful optimisation strategy will help to ensure your VR headsets in the future are using their technology as efficiently as possible to drive better experiences. At the same time, eye tracking will help to adjust the position of your view in VR, along with general head tracking, to reduce motion sickness.
4. Spatial Audio
Spatial audio has emerged as a critical consideration for virtually every VR headset creator. As we continue to dive deeper into the benefits of virtual reality, we discover true immersion relies on more than just 360-degree images. It’s also important for teams to be able to access other senses when they’re within the VR landscape.
Spatial audio is essentially “surround sound” for the virtual reality space. Using specialist headsets and speakers, VR headset developers can make users feel like sound is coming from specific areas in a VR environment. This helps the overall experience to be more realistic and engaging. It can also improve how “natural” it feels to move around in VR.
Spatial audio means the sound in a landscape is locked to a space, rather than just funnelling through to your ears at the same volume wherever you are. This is important for the brain to understand the layout of the virtual landscape correctly.
5. Haptic Feedback
Finally, VR headsets are rapidly taking on a wider variety of accessories to enhance the immersive experience for users. Today’s devices come not just with controllers and sensors to track movement, but spatial audio systems and adjustable designs. One of the most valuable accessories capturing attention in the VR space today, is the haptic feedback system.
Haptic feedback refers to the use of touch in communication. Imagine being able to step into a VR conferencing room with your team, and actually feel the desk in front of you when you lay down a piece of paper, even if you’re standing in an entirely empty room. Using pressure, vibrations, and motion, haptic feedback solutions make you feel like you’re interacting with real options.
Currently most common in the form of gloves and vests, haptic feedback sensors are appearing in a wide range of VR environments. These tools could be particularly useful in training and educational environments for the future of VR. Haptic feedback could help to improve muscle memory, while improving the immersion of the experience.
As the VR environment continues to evolve at an incredible rate, there are new trends and opportunities emerging in the market all the time. Which VR headset trends are you most excited about for 2022?