Virtual reality is a computer-generated reality experience. It puts the user on a solitary virtual environment that is enriched with audio-visual and often sensory feedback as well.
Tech enthusiasts have been working on developing virtual reality projects since the dawn of 21st century. From NASA to Sega, VR found applications in space exploration to gaming. Why, it was even used by the US military to train army personnel through virtual stimulation.
Despite its early start, virtual reality did not become a household technology like the personal computer or the smartphone. The late 1990s and the early 2000s saw it struggling to crack the mass market. The reasons were obvious.
Virtual reality content was not easily available. Secondly, the hardware was obnoxiously expensive and also could not deliver high resolution. As a result, the graphics quality of VR content suffered. As a result, there were not many takers for VR.
But, that is all set to change. The winds of change have been cooking up storm in the virtual reality realm.
Why Virtual Reality is set to take off
Rapid advancements in optical lens technology, the steadily declining costs of commodity hardware and the emerging interest in mixed reality (of which VR is a subset of all) are giving hopes for VR.
SuperData Research estimates that the market size of virtual reality hardware and software will increase from 4.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 to more than 40.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.
Immersive Experiences: Virtual reality is capable of giving users an immersive experience. Immersion, as it is technically referred to as, works by giving users the perception that they are being physically present in a non-physical world - one that is computer-generated. These immersive experiences go a notch above the on-screen visual experience that smartphones and 4K screens are currently delivering. They are highly captivating which makes them a futuristic way of consuming content.
Big moves by brands: New York Times, Greenpeace, NBC, IKEA and a long list of other brands have made virtual reality moves. They are leveraging the immersive capabilities of VR to promote their products, deliver a social message, engage users more or even to spread awareness about medical conditions like dementia.
Industry-wide adoption: Retail, healthcare, entertainment, gaming, marketing - almost every industry has joined the VR bandwagon. The industry-wide VR adoption is bringing more VR content to users as well as revived the production of modern VR headsets like Facebook Oculus, Samsung Gear VR and the likes.
All these factors contribute together to drive VR adoption in the coming years. The adoption will be characterised by noted trends which are discussed below.
Virtual Reality trends that will materialize in 2019
#1 Mixed reality sees great potential in training
This American University gives out #VirtualReality headsets— Ronald van Loon (@Ronald_vanLoon) January 27, 2019
by @wef |#InternetOfThings #IoT #VR #AR #AugmentedReality #HealthTech #DigitalTransformation #Innovation #Videos #RT
Cc: @alvinfoo @kashthefuturist @pascal_bornet @TRIPLEHELIX6 pic.twitter.com/sCEssrkhuL
Virtual reality is proven to be a good alternative to real-world training. It aids in providing users a spatial and visual information and knowledge that requires exercising of their psychomotor skills like head movement, hand gestures, observation of surroundings and so on.
That makes it a good alternative for training in sensitive operations like military, healthcare, heavy-duty manufacturing, pilot training and so on. In a way, VR saves enterprises from having to bet huge sums of money on actual infrastructure required for training.
For instance, there is no need for a mock flight module or the use of real ammunition for shooting practice. Students can learn the innards of biology without having to dissect real organisms.
Even in manufacturing, engineers can use virtual reality-based designs and mockups to fine tune their creations without having to waste actual material resources.
#2 Consumer entertainment will be highly digitized
You might have enjoyed the latest blockbusters in a fully-decked movie theatre. Why you might have been amused by the D-Box, IMAX or 3D visual magnificence. But, VR will go one step beyond all that.
It will make users feel part and parcel of the movie experience. It will put them right on the sidelines of their favorite stars while they are fighting holy wars or firing away ammo in an action-packed scene. VR theatres might take some time to become mainstream. For now, Amsterdam is leading the race to become the first city with a VR theatre.
#3 VR will become more social and collaborative
Collaboration and social workplaces are the war cries of modern businesses. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus in 2016 shows how serious the social media giant is in spreading VR on a global scale. Whether it would be a virtual conference room set up or a virtual bar for socializing is something that we have to wait and watch.
On the other hand, pioneers like Spatial are going to a step ahead to blend augmented reality with virtual reality. Their offerings will bring to reality several digital tools that will help users turn surfaces into whiteboards where designs can be created digitally, shared and also worked upon.
#4 VR content will increase in quality and supply
This is a no-brainer. Virtual reality content has shot up in quantity and quality over the past couple of years. YouTube’s 360 channel has more than three million subscribers. From the melting polar ice to the London Supreme court, a world of virtual reality content is hosted there.
The number of videos is only increasing with every passing day. There are virtual reality cameras that enable vloggers and influencers to create virtual reality content. In the coming days, more and more equipment will become capable of creating virtual reality content throwing open the floodgates of VR content.
The ground reality
Virtual reality is on the rise. It has shot up in popularity and is soon on the way to become a mainstream technology like augmented reality. However, we don’t expect to see the bulk headsets to be worn on streets or at workplaces. Instead, we expect virtual reality to blend in with other forms of reality like augmented reality. The trends that we have spelled above will see that to reality.
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