Virtual reality, or VR for short, is already being hailed as the next wave in computing, but it’s still a few iterations away from becoming as commonplace as mobile devices, which is the current wave of computing. That said, proponents and advocates of VR continue to push the envelop in order to drive this fledgling market. Though delayed by a few months, VR was off to a great start this year. In 2017, we expect it to get over its teething pains and present a more mature image to consumers.
Already we’re seeing dozens of 360-degree videos popping up, covering both tech and non-tech events. While these have mostly been pushed by tech companies, we’re bound to see a surge in such videos coming from anybody and everybody.
360-degree videos will be the new selfie with the coming of affordable 360-degree cameras, either as independent accessories or attachments or smartphones. Just as, in the beginning, few were concerned about the quality of front-facing cameras, so too will few be too obsessed with relatively low res 360-degree photos and videos, as long as they’re cheap to make.
VR becomes as commonplace as mobile, people will continue associating it with games. And that’s fine as well. Games are usually great at pushing the boundaries of technology, especially when it comes to high frame rate graphics. The VR experiences being released today are only the tip of the iceberg.
Pushing virtual reality to the forefront of computing requires making it more accessible to the masses. Current “serious” VR rigs, however, are anything but. That mass VR adoption will come via what else but our smartphones.
VR viewers do exist today, partly in thanks to Google Cardboard’s push for cheap peripherals. Sadly, those are but a far cry from what VR is truly capable of. With a more capable Daydream platform and viewer, there is a chance that accessory makers will also make the switch to headsets that at least have some modicum of control, like a remote control.
Virtual reality is both an immersive technology as well as an isolating one. By nature, it occludes anything outside of the display in front of the user’s eyes, a limitation addressed by another synthetic reality technology. While it does place you virtually in the middle of the action, you do so alone. At least physically alone.
And yet, VR has the potential to become a hub for social interactions. It could make something like Facebook a thing of the past. Or rather, it could become “Facebook 2.0”, so to speak.
Compared to displays, input in VR is a tad harder to get right. It needs the right combination of technology and design to become even approachable. Cardboard, which lacked significant input methods, is an example of how things go wrong.