Virtual Reality Poised to ‘Cross the Chasm’ to the Wider World

Beau Cronin, co-founder of Prior Knowledge and current senior manager of predictive products at Salesforce, recognizes that VR is in the process of transforming from a specialty technology where innovation is driven by small groups of experts, to a general-purpose technology that will tap into a huge, broader market of users and hackers. In a recent article, he postulates that VR today is where the Internet was in 1993, just before Netscape. At that time there was a re-evaluation of all the rules, often done by outsiders.

Some elements were set aside as better solutions emerged (table-based page layouts gave way to CSS), while others were left intact for good reasons but later suffer from unintended consequences (easily spooked “From: addresses” in email).

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Simple numbers dictate that most of the innovations will come from newcomers, and not the VR “lifers” who currently dominate the field. Cronin sees the Oculus Rift as the transformative platform; the “Crossing the Chasm” device.

He wonders how standards will evolve. Will they be extensions of existing standards? Will new standards efforts be initiated? Or will major players open up their platforms enough so formal standards will not be necessary?

Finally, he notes that Oculus recently pivoted from supporting VR game app development to funding narrative VR entertainment. What the killer app for VR will be is anyone’s guess.

“VR is at that thrilling fleeting moment when its imminent arrival seems assured, and yet every important question about the shape and nature of its adoption and socioeconomic impact remains unanswered,” writes Cronin for O’Reilly Radar.