VR, or more commonly known in its longer format as virtual reality, has been a bit of a slow burner. Its introduction has started to pick up pace, however, since it has been adopted by mobile devices, and became more popular in the video game industry.
Gaming devices, such as Sony's Playstation VR, has received quite a lot of exposure after VR's arrival on the scene, whilst Google Cardboard promotes the initiative for VR in mobile app development. And it is expected that more is due to develop in the gaming and mobile industry for virtual reality. With this in mind, it's worth delving into the technology further just to understand what lies ahead in regards to virtual reality and how much opportunity it gives.
How mainstream can VR become?
The main question that may be raised about virtual reality is how much it's going to change society, and whether it will be adopted to the level where it is a common feature in everyone's life. Up to now, although a very innovative form of technology, it has taken time for VR to really hit the heights that have been expected of it. However, Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg claims that within 5-6 years this could become a part of daily life. Much like smartphones in today's world, he claims it is a technology that has a potential to be a part of everyone's identity, helping us to function through common day to day activities.
Facebook spent about $2bn on Oculus VR, which is one of the leading brands in VR technology, and it's unlikely that Zuckerberg would spend that much just to promote fancy headsets that are only compatible with PCs. Instead, the aim is probably to understand and modify the technology further so that it can be adapted for other functions too.
At the moment, we see virtual reality being used for gaming and entertainment purposes, but Zuckerberg is hoping that it could develop further, for use in business and computing. It can be used to develop employee training solutions where potential candidates are taken through live role play situations in VR to test how they cope with different tasks. The plan would be to use VR to cater to all kinds of other experiences, like sports, education and music which are considered as influences in everyone's day to day life.
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Education, in particular, could be a real winner for VR if implemented correctly. Teaching faces challenges all the time and to be able to make education engaging for younger pupils/students, adopting VR technology can be considered as beneficial for the future.
In sport, using virtual reality could project consumers into stadiums to witness sporting events. Rather than watching the event on TV, they could have a seat in the stands or pitchside, having the feel like they've bought a ticket to the match/event. All of these would just be some examples of how virtual reality could advance. It provides greater opportunity for software, hardware and app development also as research continues into how the technology could be adapted.
Adaptations of VR
In its current form, virtual reality only influences the visual and auditory senses of consumers. However, it could be quite possible that, through future research and development, virtual reality could also tap into the other senses available to us. Similar to the 4D cinema experience, VR could target the sense of feel and smell. If this is the case, there is a very good chance that virtual reality would feel like genuine realism rather than a visual entertainment console.
The idea of VR tapping into all these senses would dissolve the line between what is real and what's fake, and the experience would become far more believable. There is sure to be continuous research made into how hardware and software equipment could become interactive. It's also likely that as the popularity grows, there'll be a higher demand for the technology to portray an even more real experience.
It does beg the question of whether the mind and body will be able to cope with the sense of realism, however. As the technology develops, there is sure to be plenty of research on this subject area. The safety of consumers would have to be the main priority considering the lengths that VR has the potential to be taken to.
Increase in marketing potential
The business applications of VR will take time to develop and produce. The resources available to build such realities are restricted and require further research. The software and hardware prototypes will be stressed through various testing procedures, but as the work continues to happen behind the scenes it will be worth the tweaks and maintenance. Once perfected, the possibilities could be phenomenal and with that will come a growing interest in virtual reality, producing potential mass numbers of sales.
In its early days, the biggest struggle has been making the technology available for the masses, however there are plenty of companies out there who are looking to develop their own hardware for VR, Facebook being one of them examples. For now, we're in the middle of the process where the technology is being perfected, and there will be continuous demand for variations in the technology which will keep the ball rolling from the development aspect.
We are living in an increasingly developing world where technology continues to advance. In the aspect of virtual reality, it's still a technology that is yet to be grasped by the masses but it also still has time to develop before reaching out to larger audiences. For now, from introductions with Sony and Samsung headsets, it has simply touched the surface for a lot of consumers. Over time, further research will be conducted though and the interest will start to rise. As it does, it's likely that the use of VR technology will soon become a widespread product that is used in everyday life in multiple ways.
This is a guest post by Jamie Costello. Jamie is currently a student and freelance writer. The topics of interest he enjoys writing about mainly revolve around technology. In his spare time Jamie likes to play computer games, read and swim.