Should you get into virtual reality? The answer to that question may well be depend on a few additional questions:
1. Why are you creating it?
Before you get started, says J.P. Gownder, vice president at research firm Forrester, "ask why you're creating it. If the technology won't potentially solve a problem, don't bother." He cites Six Flags, which created VR fantasy settings for roller-coaster riders. Most people stop after two rides, but the VR content has led many to repeat the experience more often than that.
1. Can your customers use it?
You've got some nice VR, but what's your audience going to view it on? "Companies often erroneously assume their target customers have access to VR headsets," says Gownder. People aren't buying viewing devices in large enough quantities yet, which means businesses need to address that gap. Companies that show their application at brick- and-mortar locations, as Lowe's does in some stores, may offer a prospective customer an Oculus Rift to use onsite. Or they may have vending machines that dispense cardboard devices like the Google viewer.
2. Make or buy?
If your team has the technical chops, it can create programming with varying degrees of complexity. A 360-degree camera that you walk through a space can be had for a few hundred dollars. If you're selling products that can be turned into a gaming-like experience, 3-D-modeling and gaming software, such as Unity, Stingray, and Blender, are a must. But going to an outside creator makes more sense, especially if you have no 3-D experience. "The learning curve for this type of software is steep. If you want compelling VR content, it's more efficient and affordable to hire an outsider," says John Shulters of Ascension Studios.