Philip Rosedale: Four Reasons Why Virtual Reality Has Not Taken Off Yet Among Consumers

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Philip Rosedale (the founding CEO of Second Life and the CEO of High Fidelity) used to have a very ambitious goal printed across a large banner hung over the stage at HiFi events: One Billion People in VR, it read.

It was the company’s goal to get millions of people in VR headsets and using their social VR platform. But those millions of people never came, and Philip Rosedale has been spending some time lately doing a bit of reflection about what went wrong, and why that never happened.

Yesterday, he penned a post on the official High Fidelity blog, titled Requiem for the HMD, outlining what he sees as four key problem areas that need to be addressed before we can expect to see widespread consumer uptake of virtual reality headsets:

  • They need to be light and comfortable enough to wear all day: “The weight needs to drop to the same as ski goggles — about 300 grams.”
  • Good see-through display: “You need to be able to see the world around you while you are using these things.”
  • They allow you to type at a normal speed.
  • The display is the same quality as a desktop screen.

Philip writes:

It’s hard to say when these challenges will be solved and packaged into one elegant solution at mobile-phone price points. I’m clearly not the only person who thinks we’re in the thick of winter for consumer-grade VR headsets. In the meantime, I’ll keep rooting for the commercial-grade applications that show the world what’s possible and to funnel enough money into the industry with the hope that the next screen comes out in the not-too-distant future.

If you want to read Philip’s blogpost in full, you can do so here.

What do you think? Is Philip right or wrong, and why? Please feel free to leave a comment below. And I also cordially invite you to join the conversation over on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, the world’s first cross-worlds discussion forum! Over 300 people from around the world, representing many different social VR platforms and virtual worlds, meet daily to chat, discuss, debate, and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and companies building it.

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2 thoughts on “Philip Rosedale: Four Reasons Why Virtual Reality Has Not Taken Off Yet Among Consumers”

  1. Some current-gen headsets are not too far off from 300 grams.

    Seeing meatworld while inside VR is already possible to some extent, but I guess Philip meant physical passthrough. That would require having a controllable semitransparent “shield”, or a physical curtain, not unlike medieval helms.

    Typing in VR is an anachronism, we will have to invent something better. There is usually no surface and/or tactile feedback when typing in air in VR, so this is not going to work well. Maybe eye-typing?

    “The display is the same quality as a desktop screen”. Think he meant “perceived” quality. VR displays already have larger resolution than most desktop displays. Perceived resolution is harder to nail. Technically, we would need to jump at least 2-3 times from current resolution to get close to “retina” resolution, with almost imperceivable pixels. 5 times, to be safe.

    But what Philip misses is the actual content. People who love VR experiences are ready to put up with bulky, low-resolution headsets, because they ENJOY the experience. So we need good software as much as good hardware. Even purely perfect headset will not make people use VR if it’s boring, or, god forbid, BAD.

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