Seven in ten consumers would consider buying a virtual reality headset

Consumer awareness of virtual reality (VR) is rising steadily and three quarters of UK consumers believe the technology will have a positive impact on their lives, according to a new survey.

The survey, commissioned by Invest Bristol & Bath (IBB), revealed that VR is expected to have an impact across a broad range of industries in the next 12 months. Perhaps not surprisingly, VR is anticipated to have the most impact on the gaming sector (60%) although the entertainment industry (45%) and education sector (23%) are also expected to see a significant impact.

Other areas where consumers expect to see VR-related changes in the coming year include travel (13%), defence (10%) and property/construction (9%).

But while attitudes are generally positive, consumers are cautious about introducing VR to the home. As many as 23% expect the technology to have a negative impact on their sex life and another 23% are concerned about a negative impact on family life as a whole. What’s more, 20% feel that VR could have a negative impact on mental well-being.

Overall, a third of the 2,000 people questioned have already tried a VR headset and 70% would consider buying one in the near future, with Samsung Gear (33%) and PlayStation VR (28%) top of the list for most consumers.

Price is a key factor. IBB found that 32% are willing to pay up to £200 and 27% would consider paying up to £300 but only 3% are willing to pay more than £500. This could limit the market for more high-end systems such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the organisation said.

In an accompanying White Paper on virtual reality entitled ‘Work, Rest and Play: How Will Virtual Reality Impact Everyday Lives?’, Liz Falconer, Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning at the University of the West of England in Bristol, discussed some of the benefits that VR will bring.

“The opportunities to learn safely from simulations in virtual environments before trying things out in the physical world; the opportunities for people with disabilities to take part in activities and social events that would be restricted in the physical world; opportunities for people from different countries, religions and cultures to meet regularly and share experiences and understanding without having to travel to do so — all this, and more, makes me confident and excited about the future of VR,” she said.

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