Virtual reality is remarkable, demonstrating the cutting edge of what technology is capable of right now. As the technology continues to evolve VR’s abilities will continue to develop and improve especially as processors improve, screen resolution increases and content creators learn how to create for the format. So where is VR in its current state today? Where will it go next? As innovators in our own industry VAIO can recognize the similarities in our paths and ask ourselves similar questions, but let’s stick to virtual reality this time.
So, Where Are We Now?
2016 is quite literally being infiltrated by virtual reality. Products and concepts that have been on the market for some time are receiving a pretty big push with regards to advertising, gaming and of course the content that will inevitably accompany it. Deloitte Global, a global holding company has predicted that virtual reality will have its first billion dollar year in 2016. Their supporting evidence being the $700 million in hardware sales and the remainder coming from the content side of things. With the largest focus on video games they’re estimating about $2.5 million in VR headset sales and another $10 million in copies of games sold.
On the flip side we’re seeing some non-traditional uses for VR. Virtual learning software is being developed and has the ability to change the way we learn. Marketers are also starting to take hold of this new technology, understanding that it could be the breakthrough they need to really grab hold of their consumers. Google Cardboard is giving consumers an affordable option to VR and then sending them right to their app store to start downloading games. The Coachella music festival included their version of Google Cardboard with each of their ticket boxes and offered a free app that would give festival goers a 360 view of the grounds and interactive videos of what to expect.
One of the most popular ways to experience VR is through gaming. Entertainment and gaming industries are investing millions in order to create the next wave of immersive entertainment. This idea of creative storytelling is taking on a whole new element where gamers are literally cast into the action. VR is becoming the next best thing to actually being there.
This year E3 was VR’s chance to really shine. Two headsets are currently available now- Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but both serve such a small market. PlayStation VR will be released in October. The headset will open up the medium to tens of millions of PlayStation 4 owners. Oculus will be releasing their Touch motion controllers, a much more appealing feature than just the Rift. However, there are mixed messages on when the actual release date will be for the Touch. While all three platforms- PlayStation, Oculus and HTC Vive, are established enough for developers to take notice they’re still lacking in terms of games.
In that same vein, Samsungs Gear VR brought their enhanced gaming experience to E3 this year. Demoing the company’s latest technology in VR gaming they provided a fresh experience for all thrill-seeking gamers. Through a Gear VR headset gamers got to see what it was like to partake in 4D skateboarding. Best part about the Gear VR is they’re available now. There’s no telling what direction gaming will take through the rest of 2016, but we wait with bated breath.
In another avenue, VR is not only changing the gaming and entertainment industry, but it’s also revolutionizing education. The technology is allowing students to virtually attend learning centers, museums and galleries around the world. Research conducted by Stanford University shows how environmental education can trigger real behavior changes.
Not only can you use VR to visually learn, but physically too. Vedavi is a medical animation studio who works closely with the University of Zurich. Their master plan looks something like this- gone are the days of heavy books and plastic models, pick up a pair of Oculus Touch controllers fully equipped with their detailed anatomy software- VR Human Anatomy and physically learn. The software should be able to “overcome the stereotype of the complexity of learning the human anatomy.” Students can literally pick the human body apart and inspect it with natural curiosity. The meticulous labeling gives you textbook details and the added benefit is being able to manipulate the body parts with real time interactions and then pop back into place once you’re done.
The one and only downside to the sophisticated software is that the company is still unsure if they’re going to publish their software on the Oculus Store this year. Due to the fact that it’s so niche there’s no telling what kind of demand there will be.
Not only will VR fuel the gaming industry, but it will also have a strong hold on the marketing world. We should expect the rest of 2016 to be a year of continued experimentation. Marketers have an opportunity to close the gap surrounding customer engagement and awareness with VR. The new experience in marketing is immersive. This means fewer distractions and more attention to the message. VR is also impactful, the intensity of the experience is much greater than traditional media not to mention the entire experience is much more memorable.
As VAIO continues to make progress in our own vein of the industry we also like keeping an ear to the ground for emerging technology. Virtual reality will ultimately change the dynamics of the digital space. With the relatively small number of obstacles currently in its way, it’s looking like we may even be in route to that future. However, the reality of the situation is that VR is just now coming onto the scene, regardless of the millions of people who already own an Oculus Rift and Samsung’s hard push to get a Gear VR into the hands of their Galaxy 7 consumers. This trend is far from mainstream and will probably take another year before many modern consumers start using it, but with technology developing right in front of our eyes it’s hard to not be consumed by possibilities of what could be.