Science Fiction is Rapidly Becoming Everyday Fact
Virtual Reality will be one of the most transformative technologies over the coming years. What are the latest developments in its evolution?
Technology marches on apace with every passing day. As processors get faster or smartphones get smarter, we do, of course, feel the impact. But there are some areas of technology that can truly transform the way we live our lives or do business.
Cloud tech is one such example, particularly from a business perspective, and Artificial Intelligence is another. But it is the world of Virtual Reality that really captures our imagination. Partly that is because it is something that has been “almost here” for so long – VR goggles and gloves were being discussed and trialled on TV shows 30 or more years ago. And partly there is the intersection of science fiction and science fact – after all, who wouldn’t want to have a go on one of the Star Trek Holodecks?
When the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets hit the shelves in 2016, there was general consensus that the VR age was here at last. Of course, those working in custom software development will tell you that the technology is still in its infancy, and since that initial buzz, talk of VR has calmed down. However, VR is progressing rapidly, just not, perhaps, in the ways you might have expected. Let’s take a look.
Training and teaching
There has been plenty of debate about whether today’s kids would be capable pilots or drivers thanks to the realism of the games they play. This is not so fanciful a thought, given the hours that real pilots and Formula One drivers spend in simulators.
But with VR, this concept can be taken far beyond driving a car or flying a plane. For example, surgeons can hone their skills in a VR setting before being let loose on a real patient. There are also less dramatic training applications that are just starting to emerge. In January, Walmart announced that it is using VR headsets to train employees in customer service.
The next step in social
Social media has been one of those transformative innovations that has had a dramatic impact on our lives. But when social is combined with VR, exchanging Snapchats or Facebook messages could soon seem as archaic as writing a letter. Facebook’s decision to purchase Oculus in 2016 gave a good indication of the way the wind is blowing and its VR Spaces platform will change the way we hang out with friends online forever.
There are also business applications here, and VR will make the next generation of video conferencing even more interactive and realistic, further reducing the need to travel for physical meetings.
But what about the games?
Two years ago, the main selling point of VR was to deliver a more realistic gaming experience. The gaming sector has continued its rapid growth, and according to media reports, now generates more money than the movie and music businesses combined. Yet in this particular sector, VR has still not really taken off. Gamers are, it seems sufficiently immersed in popular games like FIFA and Fortnite that there just isn’t the interest, and VR gaming seems perpetually stuck in the early adopter phase.
This will inevitably change over time, but the fact that VR games have not taken the world by storm does not mean that VR itself has stalled. In fact, the VR revolution is already here – it’s just its uses that have taken a direction you might not have expected.