A 3D Immersive Experience. What’s Next for Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality is an immersive emerging technology that is the current hot thing in the tech world. We have already seen VR hugely increase in popularity over the past few months, and it doesn’t look like the trend will be stopping anytime soon. The technology behind VR has improved massively over the past few years, and every tech company wants a piece of its success. However, the technology itself that is behind VR is still very new. With both Google and Apple both announcing their foray into the world of virtual reality at the recent WWDC Conference, the competition is hot. We’re keen to see where the future of VR is headed.
Virtual reality literally translates to “near-reality”. It is the use of video, imagery or animation to create a 3-dimensional computer generated world or scenario. Through the use of goggles or glasses, the sensory information fed to the user through the game feels almost real. While immersed in the world of VR the user struggles to differentiate between reality and what is virtual. Hence the name virtual reality, as the final result is a blend of both. One reason for the struggle to differentiate between real and fake is that the brain has not yet evolved to tell the difference between the two. This means that experiences in the world of VR are perceived by users as a warped version of a reality.
So, what’s they hype behind virtual reality? In the long term, there really is endless potential. At current, VR seems to be appealing particularly to gamers. The immersive nature of VR allows the user to feel as though they are in the world of the game. What gamer wouldn’t want that?
With more people being intrigued by the possibilities that virtual reality holds, it’s no wonder technology to experience it is becoming available to the general public. Recently the release of the Oculus Rift headset, which is primarily a gaming headset, has set the bar for mainstream VR products. The website states that “Rift’s advanced display technology combined with its precise, tracking system enables the sensation of presence – the feeling as though you’re actually there. The magic of presence changes everything. You’ve never experienced immersion like this.” People are truly getting to experience their games first hand, and it’s really selling.
Not content with beginning to dominate the world of gaming, VR apps for photo and video are also becoming readily available. People can transform videos and images into virtual reality content to be consumed through their own devices alongside the use of tech such as Google Cardboard, which are DIY virtual reality headsets you can create in minutes in your own home. In order to transform content into VR content, the Google Cardboard app must be downloaded. “Cardboard Camera” is the newest feature, which turns your phone camera into a VR camera so you can capture immersive panoramas as well as sound.
As well as mobile apps, 360 video and imagery can also now be embedded on websites using plugins. This means that certain aspects of the website can be viewed using VR headsets. For companies that are looking to give site visitors a look round their office, or for companies like estate agents looking to show viewers around homes, this provides great opportunities.
The world of digital entertainment is literally reimagined through VR, which is exceptionally exciting for developers. Virtual reality does not stop there though. Gaming is just the beginning. The feeling of being immersed in a 3-d computer generated world can be transferred to other uses for the technology.
Some of the key industries that VR is being explored for are science, geography and psychology. Experts have highlighted the possibility of using virtual reality to explore eco-systems such as the great barrier reef without causing them damage. Another area would be for medical students to be able to experience and practice with complex surgeries prior to real life. Furthermore, the technology can be used for treating those with phobias, or PTSD. Virtual reality can be used to help overcome traumas or fears.
What will the future hold for virtual reality? Some suggest that though current technology only allows the use of one sense – sight, that in the future other senses can be developed upon with VR. The sense of sound seems as though it is the next logical move. This is especially considering Google have just acquired a spatial audio company – Thrive Audio. This would allow sounds to seem as though they are coming from different places, such as a bird tweeting behind you. This would create even more of an all-around immersive experience for the user. The next move would be to capitalise on smell, taste and touch, though experts suggest this is much farther into the future than sound.
It seems as though the world of VR is one that will keep growing and evolving with time. With huge corporations getting on board and making virtual reality accessible to mainstream audiences, it certainly doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.