Will VR and AR Kill the TV As We Know It?

There is one thing that’s constant in the world of technology: evolution. One discovery leads to another, one innovation inspires more, and technologies that were innovative just a few years ago can quickly become obsolete. At one point in time, television was a technology for the future. It has come a long way from the cathode ray tubes of the past – over time, it has become colored, then slim, then flat, then high-definition. But did it reach the point where it can’t evolve further? Some think it has – and that virtual and augmented reality will be the technology to replace it.

Innovations like 4K screens and smart TV’s have failed to captivate the attention of the public for long. After all, people spend less time watching TV than before, focusing far more of their attention on their “personal screens”. Even though smart TVs have adopted some of the traits of a smartphone, like browsing the web and running online casino games, they were at a point halfway between computers and smartphones, with none of the most attractive traits of either one of them. After all, playing Wild Jack games is still far more convenient on a smartphone than on a big-screen TV. Besides, playing at the Wild Jack is a personal experience that’s best enjoyed in private, not on the TV in the middle of the living room – and certainly not while the family is fighting for the remote. And constantly pushing the screen resolution upward is also not a reason enough to keep the TV exciting for the masses.

Some believe virtual and augmented reality will lead to the slow but steady disappearance of TV screens as we know them. Back in 2014, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has expressed his belief that his product will mean the end of TV at PAX East Boston. “Traditional displays are very expensive to manufacture and ship,” he said, “not because the technology is high-tech – it’s all commoditised. A large TV is expensive because it’s literally just a lot of plastic and a lot of glass in a big box that has to be shipped across the world, [to] sit on a store shelf until someone buys it.” Once VR reaches the same level of commoditization, it will have what it needs to replace TV screens completely. After all, the materials needed to produce it already are a fraction of what is needed to produce a big screen TV – a small screen, some lenses, small amounts of plastic, and minimal packaging. According to Luckey, it will take at least a decade but VR will indeed replace the TV.

VR and AR technology have taken a few steps in this direction already. Think of Microsoft’s HoloLens which has been shown to be able to project a large screen anywhere, even in the thin air, and play a video or even a live TV channel on it. As VR and AR headsets become cheaper, they will become the more feasible alternative to TV, and will slowly kill it off. But don’t worry – they will allow you to simulate sitting in a room watching TV as you do today.


Disclosure: This is a collaborative post and the author’s views here do not necessarily reflect those of the blog owner.