The virtual reality landscape has been full of starts and stops. One day, it’s potentially solving world problems. The next, it’s dead. So, what gives? The current state of XR is ever-changing from day to day. 

Steps towards creating an immersive reality—VR, the metaverse, web 3.0, whatever the hottest buzzword of the moment—is not a new concept. For decades, innovative people have strived to create immersive experiences. Social media filters, interactive gaming, and apps to test the paint color of a new house are all ways users are latching onto mixed reality. But VR has still been a flop for most users other than early adopters and gamers. 

Consumers are optimistically skeptical. Research, however, has shown several components are missing. Among the inhibitors are that organizations focused on extended reality, known as XR, have not been able to create an unforgettable app or digital experience. But also, there are challenges related to user functionality, usability, and accessibility

Now, let’s take an immersive journey into the world of VR. And don’t forget to download a free copy of our new XR Guide: A Shift in Reality for Quality Assurance. This guide goes over the current trends, research, and stats about user experience with XR technology, from VR headsets to augmented reality apps.


The Current State of XR

Page 4 of PLUS QA's 2023 XR guide showcasing the relationship between XR, VR, AR, and MR headsets.

XR as a whole is here, but some experts say there are several concerns. For instance, there has been a plateau in consumer adoption and a lack of breakthroughs in apps that are truly engaging users.

Year after year, analysts predict a rush of headset shipments. Meta’s Quest 2 sold more than 20 million VR headsets, which surprised some analysts. Overall, the growth is slow compared to predictions.  

On the other hand, there remains a world full of potential. Approximately 66% of people in the US want to see a feature, service, or experience that is not available through any other outlet, such as TV or gaming.


Tracking the Missing Element 

Bar chart showing the projected growth in XR headset shipments from 2022 to 2026. It is comparing AR headsets against VR headsets.

To drive wider adoption, developers will need to create an experience that is compelling and innovative enough to transfer VR devices into a common household item. Here are a few barriers to why people may be hesitant or unable to try out VR technology for themselves. 


Cost-Efficient Devices 

Until now, most devices have been costly. There is a reason one of the most commonly Googled questions under the VR headset category is “What is the cheapest VR headset?” With Meta’s announcement of the new Quest 3, the price of the Quest 2 was cut in half to about $300. There are many devices planned for release over the next year, which may see the price of VR headsets in particular fall. 

QA can’t control this factor, however, PLUS QA has an extensive device lab with many VR products.

An Exclusive Experience

In a TechCrunch article, author Haje Jan Kamps pointed out one aspect missing from VR: a “must-have” feature or experience. Many organizations are concerned about overestimating the impact VR has had. At the same time, 65% of businesses in the US are actively exploring how they can enter the metaverse, whether that’s through creating an AR experience that people can use on their mobile phones or investing money in the development of products or services. 

While the innovation is up to the developers, testing improves the user experience and the likelihood that consumers will find bugs or comfortably use an app or service.

Solutions for Accessible VR/AR Headsets

There are still some challenges for users, although many of these features have improved with time. One good example is wearing prescription glasses with a VR or AR headset. While technology is improving, this is still a problem for eyeglass wearers such as journalist Scott Stein of CNET. Other people can get motion sickness or have other disabilities that exclude them from using the devices comfortably. 

QA testers can help with some of these problems through functionality, usability, and accessibility testing.


Creating Relevant, User-Focused VR Technology


Woman wearing VR headset working at her desk on a software project.

The future of VR is likely dependent on developers and other innovations. And many organizations understand that there is unexplored potential. 

For instance, in June, Apple announced the Vision Pro headset will be available to the public sometime in 2024. Apple has steered clear of calling the device a VR headset, instead opting for the term “spatial computing.”   

To drum up more excitement, Apple is taking applications from developers to create a compatible app with their new spacial computing device. Additionally, new labs are open in Cupertino, London, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo. Other organizations have tried similar methods of releasing developer kits. 

In the meantime, the XR landscape will continue to morph. QA testing can help with launching your VR or AR application to enhance the user experience.  

Download our new guide to learn more about virtual reality as a whole and how QA testing can help make your new app accessible to everyone.

PLUS QA's 2023 XR Guide: A Shift in Reality for Quality Assurance Testing

An HTC vive VR headset with the controllers sitting on top of a shelf