How India is Making its Mark in the Augmented & Virtual Reality Sector

 Aditya Ganguly, Founder, Simulanis New Delhi based Simulanis with a multifaceted, experienced and highly qualified talent-force brings together a unique blend of solid theoretical, unrelenting passion for exhibiting excellence, and relevant practical conversance in the core realm of AR and VR.

For quite a few years, despite numerous predictions, the dream of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality becoming mainstream has been largely elusive. High cost of hardware, lack of adoption, rapid development cycles and lack of “the killer app” that would make these technologies a household name continue to make AR,VR, MR a tough industry to be in.

But times are changing, last year AR, VR startups raised more than 3 Billion dollars in funding, largely led by giants like Magic Leap, Improbable, Niantic and a few other players. At the time of writing this, VR is also having its first viral moment with VR Chat, a multiplayer game that allows people to create environments and do variety of stuff. It’s not hard to find videos of people playing the game on front page of sites like Reddit.

The narrative around AR,VR, MR has been largely limited to hardware, games, and a few experiences here and there. But India is creating its own unique story in the domain with its focus on utility, learning and B2B use-case led modules that despite not being the sexiest products in the market, are pushing forward the technology to thousands of people in India.

“The field is widening everyday”
Everyday, there are at least 2-3 stories about new developments in the AR, VR field. The field is evolving way faster than any other one right now making the development process not only challenging but exciting as well. Each day, each update, brings with itself a new set of opportunities and possibilities.

These opportunities are now attracting players of all sizes, while some of the earlier players like Simulanis, SmartvizX, Imaginate continue to lead the industry, larger players like Tata, Mahindra are also making foray into the industry. Not to
forget, a lot of smaller sized players have sprung up as well serving a variety of needs for businesses.

While many startups have sprung up, fizzled and thrived in this domain, it’s not wrong to say that this is a fledgling industry and India is uniquely positioned to create the next breakthrough in the AR, VR domain

What businesses, consumers and entrepreneurs wanting to dive into the AR,VR industry need to understand is that in the end, AR, VR, are simply technologies, just like blockchain and IoT. A well executed product utilising these technologies that solves a problem can take this technology to new heights.

“Product makers will emerge as the winners”
The industry so far in India is not a zero sum game. Most of the companies in India have thrived by serving to various businesses fulfilling a plethora of needs like better training, simulations, experiential marketing to name a few. Pharma, Auto, Oil & Gas and Defence have been some of the biggest industries adopting these technologies. India and a large majority of the world has yet to adopt these technologies meaning a lack of audience for direct to consumer products.

Indian product led startups in the AR, VR domain have been struggling because of the same reason. But courtesy lowering hardware prices as well as better portability, ARkit by Apple and ARcore by Android, and a continuous push by the industry to create awareness among masses means a substantial market for AR,VR products is being set up making this the perfect time to start focusing on a product play.

Some of the consumer sided businesses that are prominently defining the AR, VR businesses in India are VR Arcades (Smaash being a good example and has been funded equally well), AR mobile games (Empower Labs), use case led VR hardware (Loop Reality), Educational VR modules and Multiplayer VR games (Simulanis).

“Indian AR,VR startups need to thinkGlobal”
One of the biggest challenge of running AR, VR startup in India has been access to hardware. This is a problem that is well echoed by all the players in India and a solution to this can push India to the top ranks in terms of AR,VR development. Despite several challenges, Indian players continue to deliver innovative solutions to global clients with its advantage of being economical. Even Fortune 500 companies are working with Indian startups for their AR, VR needs.

While thinking global has helped a lot of Indian startups thrive (both B2B and B2C),looking at challenges that are unique to India are also leading to some unique global examples. Skilling the upcoming generation is one of the core performance metric for the current government, and many skill ministries are collaborating with VR companies to set up labs that will train the future workforce in India with the help of these technologies.

Similarly, innovation at grassroots level, and making an attempt to take these technologies to even villages, can help startups solve one of the greatest challenge AR,VR companies face - reach and distribution.

While many startups have sprung up, fizzled and thrived in this domain, it’s not wrong to say that this is a fledgling industry and India is uniquely positioned to create the next breakthrough in the AR, VR domain.