Unity CEO Predicts VR/AR Takes Off In ’12 to 24 Months’

by Jamie Feltham • May 1st, 2017
Price needs to get below $1,000 'all-in'

Unity CEO John Riccitiello has been following both virtual and augmented realities for a long time and, like the rest of us, he’s waiting for it to go mainstream. Today at Unity’s Vision Summit, he outlined how and when he thinks it will get there.

Addressing a crowd at the event’s keynote speech, Riccitiello outlined three main factors VR and AR need to master in order to be widely adopted. These are largely well-known points for anyone that’s been following the industry for some time, but Riccitiello did offer enticing new insights into each area.

Price point, for example, is the most glaringly obvious factor. Current high-end headsets are far too costly, but Riccitiello thinks it needs to get under $1,000 “all-in” to be viable. That means from headset to processor to controller and everything else you might need to access the virtual world. That might be nothing new, but Riccitiello had a tantalizing tease to add. “That is in the works, I’ve seen it,” he said.

The second point is mobility. That means a headset that isn’t wired to a PC, but is free to move around anywhere. That also doesn’t mean current mobile VR headsets, but devices that fully track our location so we can move freely, be it either in VR or AR. “You’re going to be mobile. It’s not just a mobile device but you in fact will be mobile,” Riccitiello said.

Finally, there’s content, which is what current VR headset owners are yearning for. The Unity CEO noted that investors would “need the promise of at least 100 million devices in the market” to justify spedning large sums of money, which presents a real problem. Riccitiello admitted that companies like Oculus, Sony and Valve weren’t talking publically about how to resolve this issue just yet.

But the highlight of Riccitiello’s talk wasn’t outlining these points, but promising that they would happen. He suggested that he’d seen company’s plans for the one to two year future of VR, and they would finally unite these elements and allow the industry to truly take off. “They come together at the beginning of 2018 and will be here in full flower in 2019,” he said.

“It starts to take off 12 and 24 months from now.”

That’s an exciting thought, and we’re eager to see how companies plan to get there.

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  • Doctor Bambi

    “That is in the works, I’ve seen it”.

    I wonder what he could be referring to. Intel’s Project Alloy? Oculus’ Santa Cruz? HTC’s teased mobile headset? Something totally off the radar?
    The concept of an “All-in” product is going to be hugely important. Everything you need in a clean and easy to understand package. Can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner for this industry.

    • polysix

      the problem with an ‘all in’ costing around $1000 is you can’t use it for other things besides VR, with a desktop PC base you can, and most of those who buy powerful systems do (rendering, audio production, normal gaming etc) that is why to them/us it’s ‘worth it’ even at $2000 as it’s a multi purpose machine.

      So an actual all in would need to be powerful enough to not nerf VR (again) and cheap enough to be a no brainer buy ($300 or less) I can’t see both happening in one unit. Therefore I hope he just means he’s seen PC VR HMDS, wireless, Foveated, higher res, inside out tracking etc that run from a base with high end GPUS (that will also be cheaper for enough power by then). I’ve got very little interest in an all in, DRM laced mobile ‘platform’ such as santa cruz and I think it will fall flat on its faces cos it won’t appeal to the mainstream until it’s like sunglasses and $100 which is years away

      • daveinpublic

        That’s an interesting post.

      • Doctor Bambi

        Valid point, I just think a lot of people seeing the need for a high powered PC as a huge turn off. Getting the technology to a point where people don’t have to worry about that aspect will be incredibly beneficial to convincing less technical people to climb aboard. So they can just walk into a store, pick up one box, and have the peace of mind that they have everything they need to have a great VR experience. It may not be the best, most cutting edge experience, but it’ll still be perfectly adequate and maybe even provide some productivity benefits. Using it as a workstation for more menial tasks such as checking email, surfing the web, taking phone calls, ect. It could even at some point start to replace low end devices such as tablets or chromebook-esque laptops.

  • polysix

    the problem with an ‘all in’ costing around $1000 is you can’t use it for other things besides VR, with a desktop PC base you can, and most of those who buy powerful systems do (rendering, audio production, normal gaming etc) that is why to them/us it’s ‘worth it’ even at $2000 as it’s a multi purpose machine.

    So an actual all in would need to be powerful enough to not nerf VR (again) and cheap enough to be a no brainer buy ($300 or less) I can’t see both happening in one unit. Therefore I hope he just means he’s seen PC VR HMDS, wireless, Foveated, higher res, inside out tracking etc that run from a base with high end GPUS (that will also be cheaper for enough power by then). I’ve got very little interest in an all in, DRM laced mobile ‘platform’ such as santa cruz and I think it will fall flat on its faces cos it won’t appeal to the mainstream until it’s like sunglasses and $100 which is years away.

    • Cl

      Yea, i really have no interest in VR other than in my house wireless connected to my PC. Whatever they can pack into the HMD will never be as powerful as what you can get out of a PC and it also has to be big enough to block out everything else. Not something id want to wear in public.

      AR on the other hand might be nice when they can get it to look like normal sunglasses. Imagine if they could somehow make it work with contact lenses…

    • daveinpublic

      That’s an interesting post.

    • daveinpublic

      When he says ‘all in’ he’s referring to the cost, not the type of VR device. You’re thinking of an ‘all in one’ PC, but he mentioned that during the section about price, not form factor.

  • daveinpublic

    VR reaching mainstream is really big news. When that happens, our lives are going to look like the futuristic movies we’ve always seen. As far as untethered VR, it will add extra cost, but when you subtract the cost of the base stations from inside out tracking, the cost could still decrease. Looks like 2018 and 2019 will be the year when the future begins. Getting the last few years out of the way in VR has been essential, creating content, a user base, methodologies of game design, public perception, but now with major companies competing and billions of dollars and years of investment, VR is finally becoming the medium we’ve been waiting for.

    • Onyx Blue

      First intelligent post i have read in a long time !

  • Great. I’m as excited about the future of VR as the day I first saw the potential of the early Oculus Rift prototypes. Can’t wait until we finally get fully untethered (still with proper tracking of both headset/user and controllers) and properly affordable VR headsets. I think it will be a bit later than 2019 before that’s a proper reality, certainly at the kind of level of mass affordability and practicality that the likes of a current-gen console is for example, which is where I think we need to be, but I’m excited nonetheless.