2015 saw us adopting drones, gene editing, solar energy, digital medical devices etc globally. And 2016 was expected to be even more exciting and breathtaking about new reaches of success. Imagine yourself close to Niagara Falls, India or Golden Globe event during next Saturday. Welcome to Virtual Reality (VR).
The notion of VR used to be very distant and murky for contemporary user. But such large corporations as Sony, Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, HTC, Intel, Samsung and other giants have been investing billions of dollars in VR during last four years and 2016 might be the right time for gaining results. The first half of this year debuted three types of headsets: the long-awaited Oculus Rift, Sony’s PlayStation4 headset and HTC/Valve’s Vive. And don’t assume that virtual reality experience will cost you a fortune (yes, we all remember a $40,400 price tag for first headsets in 2011-2012). For example, at launch Sony’s PlayStation VR will cost an estimated $350 – exactly the same price as a PlayStation 4 console.
According to Tim Merel, managing director of Digi-Capital, virtual reality industry will generate $30 billion by 2020. Piper Jaffray forecasts sales of VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) amounting to 12.2 million in 2016. Oculus Rift is expected to account for 3.6 million of those headset sales, HTC Vive expects to sell 2.1 million units, Sony PlayStation VR stands for 1.4 million headsets, and Samsung Gear VR anticipates to sell five million portable headsets.
There are two main technology developments so far:
- Full-immersion virtual reality. They exclude you from the real world and put in a different digital realm. For now, that usually touches only two main senses: vision and hearing. Most recognizable example – Oculus Rift and its roller coaster ride that usually gives you serious nausea and motion sickness.
- Augmented Reality (AR) on the other hand, namely: overlays, images, animation, text or other information atop the real world. Probably, the most awaited example is Magic Leap promising new ways to learn, play, observe and share content.
VR and AR collaboration has already been started through Project Tango and has been called Mixed Reality. Though, this product needs some more years for follow-up revision.
So, if VR has entered the market, some spheres of social life are expected to be changed to some extent:
- First of all it concerns gaming. VR was primarily developed for a new level of gaming experience and PlayStation 4 headset would definitely implement it.
- Entertainment. Latest Sundance Festival was featuring VR pieces to experience documentary and science fiction. Moviemakers are getting ready to engage viewers on a new level of storytelling and let them experience the scenes from different perspectives.
- Marketing. Experiential marketing, to be precise, is one of the most obvious entries for VR. Big installations at exhibitions and events will allow brands to convey their message and connect to their consumers exactly the way they want.
- Education. Adopting AR for educational process can skyrocket the experience for engineers and medical students. Performing or witnessing difficult surgery or designing new engine part will be cheaper and faster.
- The last, but not least – The Internet. Imagine that you are able skip the usual two-dimensional screen and truly “enter the website”.
Virtual reality is going to become a game player who will influence the way we learn and entertain ourselves. Just like radio or television do. Education might become more experimental and less theoretical device, exploration and communication will not be limited by distance and time. The enormous potential of VR will impact computer industry, hardware and software, not to mention entertainment vendors and manufacturers. And we will definitely enjoy experiencing technological innovations from Virtual Reality.