What it is: Jaunt, a Disney and Google-backed startup in virtual reality is laying off employees.
Jaunt is a virtual reality startup that raised $100 million by promoting themselves as a virtual reality pioneer. The huge problem with virtual reality is that nobody has defined a specific use for it. Technology needs to solve problems and right now, virtual reality solves no distinct problem. While virtual reality has use in specialized applications such as training astronauts or soldiers, it’s too expensive and cumbersome for everyday use.
That’s why Jaunt has laid off employees and is shifting to augmented reality. The huge problem with virtual reality is that it requires an expensive and bulky headset to use, and by blinding the user, can only be used in safe areas such as a home or office. That means virtual reality ties you to a specific location. Even worse, nobody has defined a specific purpose for virtual reality beyond gaming and expensive simulation such as training potential astronauts to explore other planets.
Virtual reality is failing for the following reasons:
- It solves no specific, pressing need
- It requires expensive, dedicated headsets
- It blinds the user, limiting its use to fixed, immobile locations
Augmented reality has a far brighter future because it can be displayed on smartphones and tablets that people already own, it can provide directions overlaid on real images, and it can be used practically anywhere.
For Jaunt to raise $100 million without having a clear business goal shows how blinded people are to the benefits of virtual reality. They’re enamored of technology without identifying what problem that technology actually solves. Until people know what problems virtual reality can solve, virtual reality companies like Jaunt literally have no future.
The future isn’t virtual reality but augmented reality, and that’s why Apple is heading in the right direction with augmented reality on mobile devices and eventually on wearables like smart glasses. Augmented reality is far more flexible, versatile, and practical so it’s going to be used more often than virtual reality can ever be used. Augmented reality enhances reality. Virtual reality replaces reality. Augmented reality will always have a brighter future than virtual reality.