Recently, my family and I picked up an HTC Vive headset for our computer… and wow! What an incredible thing. Our initial reaction was that we were blown away. In fact, “blown away” is a common reaction from all our guests that have used it. This is certainly not the Virtual Reality of the 90’s. If you’ll recall, back then you could have a better, more immersive experience with a View Master 3D. Remember those?
The Future is Now
The new era of Virtual Reality is upon us, and it’s fantastic. From my own personal experience, the best way to describe VR is to imagine that you’re wearing a pair of goggles (which isn’t a stretch… because you’re wearing a pair of goggles) that can teleport you to an endless variety of different worlds, where you can have an equally endless variety of different experiences. The only caveats (for now) is that you must view the world through the goggles and remain tethered to a PC. Of course, there are other means of experiencing virtual reality, such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear that allow you to experience VR “untethered”, but you compromise a lot of the experience. However, as an inexpensive means to being introduced to VR, they’re great!
Right now, the best thing to do with VR is play games. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of games/entertainment experiences to choose from, and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible in the gaming industry for VR. It’s been very exciting to watch the industry take shape. Which begs the question… aside from gaming and 360 movies, what other uses could there be for VR? Could it be used for more practical applications? Absolutely!
In fact, there are already many instances where VR is being used in the healthcare field, business and even education. The areas in which VR can be applied are truly endless. Even advertising!
Which got me thinking, what are some great uses for VR that no one’s currently implementing? In my opinion, VR apps would be an awesome solution for business with endless application. Since it’s still in it’s infancy so to speak, most just don’t know it yet. VR apps generally are smaller and not very difficult to develop, which makes them easier to distribute. Also, VR applications can be implemented on desktop, mobile and even some standalone VR devices, (such as the one Google has been working on for the past year) giving businesses more choices when marketing to their customer base. Maybe they’ll produce the next big productivity app, or allow customers to have a hands on experience with a product they’re considering purchasing, or take them inside the machines that make their products, or on a virtual tour of your company, or possibly even a virtual “hands on” approach to training your employees. With so many possibilities, it just makes good sense for business. Heck, it’s good for business and consumers alike. Winning!
A Bright Outlook for VR
In 2017, VR is expected to see some serious growth with less expensive headsets on the horizon, more immersive experiences and the introduction of social media to VR, such as Facebook’s new VR app which allows you to congregate with your friends in a “virtual room” of sorts. This is a pretty big shift from the usual scrolling through a feed and liking friends posts. Now, you can still do all of those things, but with your friends. Want to watch a movie? Share old memories? Play a game together? It can all happen in Facebook’s new VR app.
What’s the outlook for VR in the immediate future? Well, based on a new report furnished by Greenlight Insights, Virtual Reality revenues will reach $7.17B by the end of 2017!
According to their predictions, the VR industry is expected to hit $75B by 2021. What does that mean for us? It means that we could likely see an influx of VR into our everyday lives… even if we don’t own a headset. From VR movie theaters, such as the IMAX VR Experience Centre to Virtual Reality Lounges where you can hang out with your friends and experience VR.
It’s such an exciting field for consumers and developers alike. It’s a field that could potentially, if executed properly, change the way that we learn, do business and entertain ourselves. Or, at the very least, enrich all those areas. Businesses, large to small, should also be excited. The opportunities that virtual (and augmented) reality are creating for connecting with customers are limitless.
In the meantime…
For now, my family and I are happy with what it is and looking forward to what it may become. We use it for everything from gaming to working out. Even our six-year-old can control virtual worlds and shape her imagination. Not to mention, its super fun for get-togethers. Speaking of get-togethers, we recently had a VR/Office Party… and what a great time that was! The whole crew here at Barker & Christol, with the exception of a couple (but you guys are going to get a chance soon – don’t worry!), got in on it. You’d be amazed what some refreshments and VR can do for an office party!
In closing, I’m very excited to see what the future holds for VR. I can only speak from personal experience, but it’s an experience unlike any others that I’ve had, and has gone well beyond what my expectation was. From what I can tell, most folks have had the same reaction after trying it for the first time.
Have you tried VR? If so, which platforms have you used? What did you think? What future applications of VR and/or Augmented Reality (which we really didn’t cover in this post – but, think Pokemon GO) would you like to see? Feel free to follow me on twitter @therealggo4th and let me know!