We have all heard the term VR, Virtual Reality. What do you think of when you see these words. I think of those 20 something nerds sitting in their basement with these crazy goggles on hooked into a computer playing a souped up Sims or D&D game where they get to make believe they are someone much cooler. Only it’s better than your standard PC gaming system, because they are “really there”. There are some niche aspects VR that have gained some innovators and early adopters: the military and police force, or medical professionals use VR for training purposes. This way they can go into threatening or dangerous experiences without the risk.
In general, however, VR is still not mainstream. Initially this was because of price. When the Oculus Rift came out as a consumer product, it started at $600 with touch controllers costing $199 each (because you need one for each hand in VR), pair that with a powerful enough PC and you’re forking out over $1500 for a fully functional gaming system and you’re still wired to your PC. Other brands have entered into this space since Oculus pioneered VR, such as HTC (Vive), Playstation (headset), Samsung (Gear – from Oculus) and Google (Daydream and Cardboard) are venturing into the VR space. Many of these are mobile, and Google has just created the ability for their phones (that you will already be buying for ~ $800) to be turned into VR headsets.
It’s been 4 years since Rift was released as a development kit, and 2 years since they have been selling to a broader customer base. This tech is still young and there are a lot of companies vying for position in the market. Where they are benefiting is the growth of streaming media and introduction of 3D broadcasting. 3D is making it becoming mainstream, even the NFL was broadcasting some football games in 3D.
Netflix is providing a ton of content for VR as well as games being created specifically for it. And now Occulus has the Go, a wireless system with a single controller. The target for this product is wireless gaming and media immersion. Imagine sitting on an airplane putting on your headset and fully immersing yourself into a movie instead of watching it on that tiny screen on the back of the seat that keeps leaning closer and closer to you. Ahh… that would be amazing. Except to everyone around you, you look like a crazy person with that funky headset on. Is the experience enough. I say, yes.
And here comes the marketing. Now, not marketed to developers, or to gamers. Oculus is targeting the mass market. Who better to sell these than our favorite movie and music stars.
Well, I believe that we are nearing a turning point in this VR cycle. If it can make the jump over the chasm of adoption between the early adopters and the early majority we may have a product for the masses! Wireless is one step in the right direction for more appeal, ease of use and comfort with watching the streaming media that they already know is another one. The last big hurdle will be to see if VR can get out of the basement and into the public for the world to see and then it may be on fire.
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Is VR becoming hot?