Goldman Sachs released a pretty comprehensive Market Analysis earlier this year (January 2016) covering general companies in AR/VR, projections for growth, and which industries will be impacted first. I’m not going to rehash the stuff they talked about in their report. You can read through it if you want. What I will do is expand on it here and give a few examples of some first-to-market industry specific ideas entrepreneurs could start to work on.
Lower End VR experiences, Augmented Reality, and 360 Video (Cardboard, GearVR, Tango, etc.):
Unless you’re developing games for the Vive or Rift I think lower end devices are probably the best place to start because that’s where most people are going to get their first virtual reality experiences (The Google Cardboard app has already been downloaded by more than 15 million people). Furthermore, augmented reality might even be more popular at first because it doesn’t fully take people out of the real world so it’s a good stepping stone.
Ok. So in terms of how to make money here, first and foremost think developer tools. Obviously there will be a lot of people scrambling to create content for the new medium. Any way you can provide value by making it easier for content creators has a great chance of becoming profitable. An example would be asset store creations to sell in Unity like 3D models. And by the way, while you’re creating 3D assets, Xperia is supposed to be releasing their SDK for AR Effects soon. It’s basically a photo editor type tool that drops 3D models into people’s pictures on their camera roll. Sony has said they only have about 30 AR Effects apps currently. The most downloaded one is in the horror realm and has around 3 million downloads. This is a little known niche that might have potential to be profitable. I heard about it in one of the talks from Vision Summit. Click here if you want to learn more about making AR Effects apps.
Education. Virtually (pun intended) unlimited applications. Think about all the limitations when teaching someone anything, remotely or in person, then think about all the ways to break these limitations. Imagine seeing scientific discoveries from the “lab” or from the perspective of the scientist who made the discovery. Understanding where an inventor or scientist was coming from when they made a discovery is a great way to truly understand difficult problems. Also imagine being able to scale systems to a level that our brain finds more manageable or being able to visualize abstract concepts.
Data Visualization apps that help engage the brain beyond just numbers. There are so many cool things that are going to be done here. Think beyond graphs and play around with scale. Being able to think differently about problems will lead to cool discoveries.
Navigation apps for indoor walking (malls, etc.). Think an AR overlay of the yellow brick road directing users to a store, tailgate spot, or dropped pin.
Games. Think about the current limitations of these lower end devices and be creative about how to have the experience make sense from a stationary position, etc.
Real Estate. You know that button on Zillow saying “Virtual Tour”? Make it actually virtual. Matterport has a $5,000 camera “doing” this, but I think an app on a Google Tango device might be the first big winner in this category.
Safety Training/Military. Think about stirring up emotional responses and cool memory techniques that will really make an impact and save lives.
Virtual offices/workspaces. Create the perfect work environment someone can drop into from anywhere.
Urban Planning. Sort of a spin on design combined with data visualization.
Emergency Mgt. Similar to safety training, but also cool in terms of possibly implementing various scenarios at low cost and comparing outcomes.
Social experiments. Think Dr. Zimbardo without people actually being abused.
Public Safety/Forensics/Infrastructure Mgt/Environmental. Think about similar low cost scenario-implementations I mentioned in emergency management.
Tourism. This is a no-brainer. Everyone knows museums, monuments, etc. are all going to be available for virtual experiences.
Healthcare. Doctor consultations are obvious. Help implement the technology for them. Or even go beyond and think about applications like AR X-Ray technology.
Manufacturing/Design. If low cost 3D modeling with printers is going to be a game changer think about no cost VR modeling.
Live Sporting Events/Entertainment. Pretty self-explanatory. It will be a very competitive space though and will probably require a lot of licensing, etc. Use your imagination. There will definitely be lot’s of independent films and shows that do well just like YouTube now.
Retail. Big brands will make it really competitive to do “mall type” environments, but there will be a lot of opportunities for start-ups the same way Instagram and Pinterest have helped small boutique shops.
Pornography. Obviously a huge industry. Coupling with teledildonics and haptic devices will make it very competitive, but with so much demand there will certainly be niches for custom fantasy building, etc.