Everyone in the VR industry can envision a world in the next 10 years that’s radically changed by virtual reality. From healthcare, education, social, training, cinema, gaming, and more, VR has a lot of Killer Use-cases. But it seems most of the industry is in agreement that the Killer App—a single, platform-defining piece of software that compels buyers—has not yet arrived. Vive’s Alvin Wang Graylin weighs in on how we might come to find it.

We’re featuring insights on the hunt for the killer app from virtual reality’s leading companies. Today we hear from Alvin Wang Graylin, HTC’s China President of Vive.

Alvin Wang Graylin

alvin-wang-graylin-headshotGraylin is the China President of Vive at HTC leading all aspects of the Vive/VR business in the region. He is also currently Vice-Chairman of the 300-member company Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance, President of the $15 Billion Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance, and oversees the Vive X VR accelerator in Asia. He has had over 22 years of business management experience in the tech industry, including 15 years operating in Greater China. Prior to HTC, Graylin was a serial entrepreneur, having founded four venture-backed startups in the mobile and internet spaces, covering mobile social, adtech, search, big data and digital media. Additionally, he has held P&L roles at several public companies.

Road to VR:
What traits do you think VR’s Killer App needs to have?

The concept of killer app applies more to application specific platforms like a defining AAA game (i.e. Halo) for a specific game console or perhaps Lotus 123/Word Perfect for the original business-focused PC. VR may not really fit this categorization, as its application can/should be much broader than a single user group. It’s like asking what’s the killer app for the Internet. It’s true the initial core users of VR today are largely gamers, but that’s going to change very soon as more high quality content/titles of various categories become available.

Vive Consumer and Business Headsets Will Become Increasingly Differentiated VR Systems, Vive President Says

Road to VR:
If you had to make a bet, which sector of VR would you predict as the place where the first Killer App emerges?

Although I believe there will be many ‘Killer apps/content’ for VR, I believe the first type of ‘Killer app’ to attract a mass audience will likely be a VR MMO built upon a big IP… it’ll be much more of an experience/discovery content with extremely high replay value vs. a hardcore game. There are a few such projects already in the works and I am very much looking forward to their release. Maybe the best virtual reality app is just an alternate reality.

Additionally, given the passive nature of the mass market today and it’s acceptance of basic video viewing, a second natural mass adoption VR use case is 360 degree life streaming. It’ll likely start from 1-2 celebrities streaming access to their exclusive lifestyles, and quickly move into any individual streaming their life’s special moments, then soon after their most mundane moments… It’s just an extension of what people do on Facebook and Instagram or WeChat today. Once 360 degree cameras and streaming is built into low cost devices, this use case will explode.

The real killer application of VR I’m more excited about is core curriculum VR Education. It’ll take longer to gain traction as there’s many moving parts involved and the education industry is generally a slow adopter, but when it does happen, it will have the biggest long term impact on our world/society as a whole. It will likely happen first in Asia where governments and parents prioritize their children’s education over all else.

The other impactful use case for VR is in collaboration and productivity. If we no longer need to do business travel or commute to work without compromising effectiveness, how cool would that be? It’ll be possible very soon in VR, and when it happens, the cost/time savings and productivity gains it creates will force companies to adopt it in droves. This may even happen faster than consumer mass market, as price is much more elastic for this market.

Road to VR:
Do you think VR’s Killer App will launch in 2017?

Initial versions of above applications could happen in late 2017 or the first half of 2018. But likely it’ll be the second half of 2018 or 2019 for mass adoption of such apps to really take off. The reason for the timing is a combination of device availability at mass market price points, the install base needs time to build up, and high quality apps/content just take time to create.

Vive President Says Next-gen VR Headsets Likely to Come in 1 to 3 Year Cycles

More from the ‘On the Hunt for VR’s Killer App’ Series:

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • VR Geek

    That was the most intelligent answer I have seen yet for this question. Nicely answered Graylin.

    • silvaring

      So second half of 2018 for mass adoption / MMO… but maybe late 2017 early 2018 for beta / power users? Interesting times… its going to be a blood bath for battle over the metaverse. Sounds like a thundercats episode or something heh.

    • Guest

      Nicely evasive answer, because he doesn’t know what killer app is going to kill his business, so he should give free money to every suckup he can find such as VR Geek!

  • Xron

    Yes, I agree, he didn’t try to avoid question like others who answered it before, he replied what he thinks is important in Vr and when will it happen.

  • Sponge Bob

    VR killer tech coming from China – not just made there but invented also

    Just think about it then call trump or obama or whatevr next mtfcker is in wh

    • Get Schwifty!

      We’ll see – the track record is so so on actually getting real non-copy cat tech going on any significant scale to market from China.

      I agree with him on points 2 and 3, but the first I’m not sure about, that will only work for gamers which make up a relatively small percentage of the population. Personally I think VR movies which might bring the viewer partially into the space would be a bigger draw than yet another MMO which is likely just going to be yet another battle arena and not a true MMO.

      I do like the attitude that VR in schools would likely be Asian – I smiled at that one in particular ;). If true I suspect it will be Japan first over China.

  • Foreign Devil

    Does Road to VR, like Trump, have to tow the line with the “One China” policy? I thought HTC was a Taiwanese company. . not Chinese company.

    • NooYawker

      Everyone except some in Taiwan follow the One China policy.

  • Foreign Devil

    One of the best examples of education VR application I’ve seen recently is the “I.S.S. exploration game” that Oculus studios just released. Incredible and detailed experience. Hope Road to VR does a review of this game. . it is free on Oculus store and not getting much publicity.

    • Spixe

      Where is this I.S.S Exploration app? I’ve searched (in the Oculus store) and have found no such application.


    You can tell Graylin gets it from the first picture. That prop gun looks awesome.

  • John Nelson

    What I would like to see is the ultimate VR version of the webcam where you have live streaming stereoscopic high resolution 360 video with ambient directional sound via cameras set up all over the globe. That would be as close to actually being there as you could get. If you set one up on a beach in the Virgin Islands, I’d be a happy camper.

  • Pedro Kayatt

    If you have interested about Education in VR you should check the project Dinos do Brazil (http://www.ztop.com.br/vr-monkey-dinos-do-brasil/ ). I was done here at VRMonkey and we reached already more than 3k plp in under a month!