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The Hype Cycle: Christmas 2016 is Judgment Day for Virtual Reality?

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Within the past few years society has slowly become exposed to innovative technologies such as 3D Printers, 360 Cameras, and VR/AR equipment such as the Oculus Rift. Although the capabilities of these technologies can be seen across the span of the digital domain, these unreleased devices still seem very new and foreign to common society. With that being said, Gartner’s Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies factually proves that these technologies are going to influence society much sooner than we think.

3D Printers, are today’s flagship innovation that has unrestricted potential to influence the future of physical object production. Today, 3D printers have the ability to design and manufacture an unfathomable amount of physical objects in the comfort of a users home that eliminates the traditional manufacturing supply chain. Not enough users truly understand the power of 3D printers, the ability to create house hold materials in a matter of minutes. Having access to a 3D printer is ideal for users in creative and engineering fields who want to envision their ideas and thoughts as physical prototypes, the potential for empowerment across multiple homes, industries, and fields is endless.

Tech Crunch sheds light on an even more eye opening concept:

“Similar reasoning holds true for 3D printed edibles. We’re already living a future consisting of smartwatches that can track our vitals. Sending that data to a food-based 3D printer would allow the machine to prepare the optimal meal or nutritional supplements for each individual throughout the day. Who wouldn’t want to replace the microwave in their kitchen with a new appliance that was capable of producing meals near-instantly, personally compiled from fresh ingredients?”

It’s evident that the potential for home and corporate 3D printing is tremendous, and we have not even scratched the surface of what is in store for society. The question remains, how and when will we see widespread adoption of 3D printers in the home of American consumers?

Unlike 3D printing, VR and AR tech inches closer and closer to redefining video content across the digital environment.

In 2008 Gartner reported that Augmented and Virtual reality was 10 years away from from mainstream adoption. Academic individuals were hasty to dismiss this as true, but within the next year major companies allocated multimillion dollar investments into the research and development of AR technology in smartphones. Over time companies such as Blippar and Aurasma changed public opinion by entering the market through AR browsing technology. Jump a few years in time, Gartner’s statement held true, translation companies such as Quest Visual, and Google translate have incorporated AR functionality into their optical tools. Additionally, emerging AR companies are focusing on print and packaging for marketing purposes and are ultimately finding success in the online domain.

Today, more and more consumer brands are dipping their fingers in the ocean that is an augmented online browsing experience. This is just the start of the potential craze for AR to exist in online markets, browsers are currently expanding their products to fit the emerging digital environment – allowing these companies to input their original strategy, and new technology into existing markets to ultimately end with the same result.


Although Gartner predicted a rapid adoption to the consumer market, VR is leading the race towards widespread consumption. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend a annual technology and broadcasting conference held by the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas. At this event I personally experienced the vast span of existing technology, software and equipment that to support Virtual Reality in a mainstream setting. If there was one reoccurring theme that was consistent within the presentations of the industry’s product specialists, it was that VR is going to catch on like wild fire, and it’s going to ignite the gasoline that has been embedded within the digital domain for the past ten years.

VR, simply put, is the future of online video, companies have developed the technology to facilitate this new experience, and the content is being created, everywhere. Most non-tech savvy individuals view VR as silly because of the cheap cardboard aesthetic of the initial devices such as Google Cardboard and Google Glass. These individuals have simply not been exposed to the potential of the beautifully created technology that is impending on society. In reality, 360 video and VR are perpetually progressing with the curation of creative, amazing content from all over the world. YouTube has been supporting 360 video content for quite some time, and it seems to only be growing in both popularity and awareness.

What’s more exciting, is that VR is booming at the professional level, young influencers such as Ben Curtis are proceeding with large scale VR deals and talent to facilitate a bright and influential future of mainstream VR content. This means we should see VR integrated into the world of cinema entertainment on an even deeper level than the content created by VR companies themselves—VR is eagerly waiting the opportunity to enter into a diverse set of industries and make its impact on mainstream society.

Ben Smith, a former Google and YouTube Exec, is an active investor in VR and Digital Media. He has laid out a set of factors as to the imminent adoption of conventional society:

  1. The Content is happening- content is being developed on an international scale, just waiting for VR to reach eyes, ears, and minds of the average user.
  2. The Incentives are all there – Tech companies leading the innovation of VR software and hardware are making strides towards furthering consumer platform adoption. Ben predicts that by Christmas of this year, VR tech from Sony, Oculus, Samsung, and HTW will be widely available and ready to be wrapped up in holiday cheer.
  3. VR Startups are generally 6 months into 18th month funding cycles- Startups tend to operate in 18-month funding cycles, knowing that a large mass of VR startups was funded in mid 2015, we can assume that VR startups have used less than half of the money raised this past year. Logically, this leaves a large sum of capital for these companies to make drastic improvements and implementation decisions within the next 6 months to gain traction for seeking more capital investment.

Garners hype cycle suggests that VR hype and attention will slow down by mid summer of this year, but will quickly skyrocket in the fall as PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and Vive launch their products into the consumer market. By the end of 2016, VR startups will see the end of their 18-month development cycle, which is a perfect for the ecosystem to create and define itself to consumers on a large scale.

As a result of the facts that have been presented by Gartner, and the status of these VR startups Christmas of 2016, will truly be the deciding event that predicts the future of Virtual Reality technology and the potential empowerment of all facets within society.

If you want to stay on top of all things VR as December 25th 2016 gets closer, keep these thoughts in your peripheral vision:

  1. Watch for the emergence and evolution of YouTube and other VR video platforms
  2. Which company will be the initial players in the market, and how quickly will these VR devices diffuse within society? Which company will be the defining brand for this innovation, think of how the iPhone defined the smartphone market.
  3. How will VR handle their application and application content? How flourishing is their portfolio? How easy is it to access?

All I can say is that I’m excited for what is to come, I think we’ll see extensive progress in both content and technology development to make this more and more attractive for the average consumer. For those of you who are worried about the price, access and functionality of VR tech it is safe to say your bases are covered. These companies have taken extensive time to make sure these products are consumer ready and available on a large scale at the point of launch. As for price, it will be reasonable but will have a price tag that would be expected of an emerging technology.

Before you know it, VR and AR content will be popping up in the Facebook and Instagram feeds of the masses ready to change the world.

John Acunto @johnnyAVisuals

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University