in an interview with Time magazine, the Xbox chief Phil Spencer stated that tech firms were about 5-10 years away from creating the kind of VR service that could produce the amount of fidelity and consistent experience that would be needed to see consumer success at scale.
“I love that we did HoloLens, not because I think everybody should go buy a $3,000 HoloLens. It wasn’t made for everybody, we’ve said that, it’s a developer kit. Now we’re doing kind of the other end with Windows Mixed Reality and $299 with OEM partners. But even then, with all these cables hanging off the back of your head, especially in a family room environment, that’s hard.”
Microsoft isn’t going it alone, other firms like its console rival Sony, HTC and Oculus are also getting involved with VR tech and Microsoft. The latter two are producing headsets that work with Microsoft’s current mixed reality features built into Windows 10 in the Creators Update, and the former collaborates with Microsoft in building their own VR headsets. As Spencer puts it, the community is very “cooperative”.
VR is a technology that has always been on the cusp of taking over the world since the 90’s, with Sci-fi and popular visions of the future typically envisioning a mixed reality future where digital and the real intertwine. It’s a difficult and long process to get to that level technically, but the second half of getting VR consumer ready isn’t just the tech, but of making consumers psychologically ready to wear it. VR already faces a psychological barrier from many consumers regarding its usefulness, aesthetics and so on, and that’s the most important wall that companies would need to break through to bring VR mainstream.