Everything You Need To Know About Virtual Reality in 2017
If you watch Westworld, then, you know far better than anyone what virtual reality is. However, we are still in 2017, and it will be a while still before we achieve a Westworld-like state of being in our everyday lives! Virtual Reality has given a new twist to the way in which we use our smartphones and other entertainment interfaces. The technology behind Virtual Reality is growing at an unprecedented rate, as is the money being invested and being pumped into the industry.
Give this a few months, and even this article will begin to look redundant. That’s the speed at which the VR space is growing! What began in 2013 for the mass market has seen such explosive growth that the numbers will continue to reach staggering heights as time goes by. Data suggests that this will be a multi-billion dollar industry by next year.
Virtual reality (VR) uses a variety of mediums to give a user a complete, immersive experience of a game, movie, or even a roller coaster – the technology incorporates the use of both virtual and physical spaces, with the aid of a virtual reality headset, to offer an experience that is as close to reality as possible.
When you are in the virtual world, you can move around and interact with it like you would in real life, through movement and “touch”. The transfer of sensations and vibrations in a VR system happen through what is known as a “haptic” system. These systems serve to enhance the reality aspect of the VR experience.
How Did It All Begin
Believe it or not, the French have dibs on “Virtual Reality” as a term itself. A collection of essays published in 1938 by French playwright Antonin Artaud speaks of “la realitie virtuelle” with respect to characters and illusions. Etymology, however, speaks of the word “virtual” being in use since the late 1400s. It isn’t until the 1950s that virtual reality began to be discussed with a bent towards computers, networks, and cyberspace.
The 1990s saw the standardization of the VR protocols that developers needed to follow and one of the key aspects of these conversations was the lack of dependence on headsets. Since the current VR development uses the technology present in modern-day smartphones, headsets are a natural extrapolation of the VR experience.
Since VR seeks to create an immersive experience for a user, it is a given that it will also be used across disciplines as a teaching and learning aid. The use of modern technology in various segments of modern living is helping to streamline work as well as streamline many processes. Let’s have a look at how these goals are being achieved.
- Video games – the entertainment sector is perhaps the first to adopt any new technology, for obvious reasons. The reach of this industry is universal in a very literal sense and the masses get a first-hand experience of new technologies rather than having to seek it out.
- Cinema – another mass market industry that is moving from the typical 2D and 3D showcasing of films to newer and more exciting platforms.
- Psychology and interrelated disciplines – VR offers researchers a cheaper option to study human interactions in an environment that they can control and curate to the needs of their study. Add to it the fact that VR is being used to alter human perception, and this particular application of the VR technology merits development.
- Healthcare – you’ve probably already seen the use of VR in Grey’s Anatomy, if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s coming soon! Jokes aside, healthcare stands to gain the most from this technology since it will enable doctors to connect with patients and analyze their physical and emotional issues with a more targeted approach rather than subject an already ailing individual to a huge number of tests and the like.
- Training – this particular use cuts across sectors – military, NASA, flights, medicine. The scope of this technology is so varied that it is a matter of time before VR becomes all-pervasive.
- Art – this is unexpected, but, technology is making creative people everywhere think more laterally than ever. VR helps an artist translate his/her vision to an almost exact scale where the room for misinterpretation simply doesn’t exist.
- Engineering – if you make things, and you find yourself getting more out of prototyping than just a rotating image on the screen, then, VR is the reason behind it! Think changed assembly lines, changed places of work, everything about this discipline is set to transform thanks to VR.
The longer you think the more uses this technology will have. It is safe to assume that there will come a time when you can’t escape the VR bug – no matter how inane the scenario. This is purely because virtual reality helps you get a very real sense of what is going on compared to any other method. When the experience is this immersive it is difficult to go wrong.
What’s next for VR – in numbers
Before we dig our teeth in, let’s have a look at the origins and the future of VR:
- The Oculus Rift Development Kit brought VR to everyday consumers
- By 2016 VR devices saw a huge surge in demand and supply – big players like HTC and Sony also entered the market
- The projected growth for VR by 2018 is estimated at $7 billion – that includes both hardware and software
- If the current projections continue then by 2020 VR and augmented reality is set to be a $150 billion industry!
- The very same projections and models estimate a sale of 500 million VR sets by 2025.
This might seem a bit of an overreach, however, the industry is all set for the kind of explosion we witnessed like we did with smartphones. With 685 start-ups, 225 VC investments and 1.3million YouTube subscribers, VR is breaking new ground by the minute!
By the end of next year, more than 150 million people are set to tune into a VR headset and let technology take over their minds for a few hours. As is the case with almost everything, there are skeptics as well and their fears are warranted. However, at this point in time, what’s on everyone’s mind is the excitement of a new technology and the possibilities it presents. The hope, as always, is that human beings create a better and more productive world with a tool such as VR.