Virtual reality is a computer generated environment in which humans can interact with the help of various devices. When we hear the term VR, what might run through our minds would be head mounted screens or gloves with sensors which help us interact in a VR environment.
It would be hard to believe that VR has been around since the 1960s, taking various forms since then. The current form has been around only over the past 3 or 4 years though. A technology that’s been around for years, a technology that various leaders of different industries have already their hands on. Can we, based on these facts, arrive at the conclusion that VR is here to stay and will be the technology of the future?
From what we’ve seen so far, a lot of technologies gained considerable attention but lost all their glamour over a period of time. But in the case of VR, the facts tell otherwise, not only because it has managed to sustain over the years but also because of its ever-increasing, wide range of applications.
The Lesser Known Applications of Virtual Reality:
- One of its most interesting applications would be VR’s role in space programs. NASA has launched a new initiative which will allow VR to simulate life on Mars. This can largely help in training astronauts and simulating environments of other planets. It also opens the door to anyone with access to VR headsets to explore the moon, mars or even the outer space.
- VR has already established itself in the medical space. It has revolutionized the industry as it allows students to practice procedures in a controlled environment. It also helps in experimenting with new surgical techniques without actually experimenting on living patients. VR is also being extensively used for physiotherapy treatments lately where in the patient undergoes the therapy in a simulated, relaxed environment which can calm his/her mind. This has proven to be more effective than the conventional method.
- It is also very popular among architects these days as it allows designers to walk through their designs in three dimensions. This helps them create plans that are stable and safe and helps them dodge any unwanted surprises.
- Then of course, there are the much more familiar roles of VR in the entertainment industries like movies, games and videos that are roaring since its introduction.
How does the VR Market Look in the Coming Future?
The global value of VR market was estimated to be around USD 960.9 million in 2016 and it is projected to reach USD 22.4 billion by 2020, given the new industrial possibilities of the technology. And when we speak about VR market, it includes the VR software sector as well along with the hardware industry. The above stats clearly show us that the VR software components are going to boom in the coming days. Credits go to the growing trend of adopting VR software platforms and applications, majorly the consumer grade VR applications that come under gaming and entertainment industries.
Currently only a few giants in the VR market are well known, major ones being Samsung, Google, Oculus etc. But a lot of others such as Facebook and Intel are already conducting R&D to have devices developed for themselves. To point out a few examples on the demand and consumption of VR, the very first VR cinema was launched in Amsterdam last year, HTC launched a VR for Netflix and the Walmart owned online shopping platform allows its candidates to experience its office culture by leveraging VR. All these are clear indicators of a bright future for VR.
Challenges Faced by VR
- The first thing to point out is that VR has not reached its prime or full maturity. In most of the cases, the technology still seems clunky and this doesn’t give the expected gratification to the end user after all the hype.
- The lack of quality content is another major issue. The content must be compelling enough to drive VR from “a good to have” to “must have” technology. Every technology had a single app or set of apps that turned out to be ground breaking. VR is yet to have that moment. So there’s a wide scope for expansion and improvement on this front.
- And the last but the most important factor – pricing! Even though some of the initiatives like the Google cardboard were comparatively cheap, the technology on the whole is a little pricey from the end user’s perspective. The reasons might be the tech not reaching its prime yet and the end consumption not reaching its full potential, despite companies pumping billions on new initiatives.
But all these are minor hiccups in the path of growth of VR and will definitely be sorted out. Thus, considering all the facts on-board, Virtual Reality proves to be an inveterate, deep rooted technology which is going to be around in the foreseeable future.