As a tech and gaming giant, Microsoft is in a unique position to invest in emerging technology and right now, the company has its sights set firmly on augmented, virtual and mixed reality. Should Microsoft’s efforts be successful, other brands may soon find new opportunities to market within the virtual space.
Microsoft acquired social VR site AltspaceVR—a cross-platform service that allows users to connect in virtual environments for events and hangouts. One couple even hosted their wedding on the site, allowing all their virtual friends to celebrate.
According to a recent study by Greenlight, 67 percent said they’re interested in social VR. Of those who have already tried VR, that number shoots up to 78 percent. Social apps like AltspaceVR bridge the gap between isolation in a headset and sharing experiences with others.
Seventy-six percent of Greenlight’s respondents said they would use social VR apps at least once a week, and 28 percent want to spend time using social VR every day.
AltSpaceVR shut down briefly after hesitant investors backed out, but then came back on after a conversation with HoloLens inventor and Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman, who found overlap between his visions for mixed reality and social VR. The acquisition means AltspaceVR’s passionate community can keep their home away from home, and Microsoft takes a big step toward competing with Facebook Spaces.
“What the industry needs now are companies who have the pockets and the patience to innovate and develop compelling experiences and Microsoft fits that bill,” Debby Ruth, senior vice president of global media and entertainment at Magid, told AListDaily. “The HoloLens was a significant standalone AR technology advancement, and being able to leverage that knowledge base to integrate VR and AR experiences will advance the industry.”
“Right now in the US there are roughly 44 million people who state they find VR interesting and intriguing enough to consider a purchase in the next year—but few are acting on that interest. The hesitation is equal parts price, content and the early-stage headsets, but our research also reveals there is not yet a compelling use case. The emergence of social VR—AltspaceVR and Sansar for example—could help change that.”
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