The Ancient Greeks were one of the first peoples to examine the nature of reality. Parmenides, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, talks about reality as a phenomenon in which change is impossible and existence is timeless, necessary and uniform. Our conception of reality has most definitely come a long way since then. One of the big questions we find ourselves asking in the modern era is, ‘is reality a singular phenomenon or are there multiple realities?’ Moreover, ‘can we create our own?’
Virtual Reality (VR) is perhaps the closest we have come to create an artificial world that we can interact with in a similar way to reality. The technology has actually been around for a very long time; the first VR headset, called the Sword of Damocles, was created in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull.
In fact, humanity has been toying around with VR since before the advent of computers — Stereoscopic photos were invented in 1838 by Charles Wheatstone. The general principles behind the Stereoscope can still be found in VR devices such as Google Cardboard. Despite its long history, the question of whether VR actually has viable real-world application still stands.
“VR adoption is actually going quite fast if you consider how disruptive the tech is,” says Hadrien Lanvin, Board Member and CEO of Innerspace VR.
When building immersive experiences (VR/AR/MR), a pipeline from start to finish was simply impossible to achieve even 2 years ago. And yet, all the major hardware manufacturers have or are just about to release high-end headsets (Facebook via Oculus, HTC, Samsung, Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo), and software giants are moving in the same direction (Facebook again, Microsoft, Google).
“The last major player to resist the headset craze, Apple, is reportedly working on an AR headset to be released in 2020,” he added.
Remember, 2016 was the first year you could actually walk into any electronics store and have a fair chance of being able to buy a VR headset. This gives us 2 years of data; looking back at the adoption rate of past revolutionary technologies (Phone, TV, PC, Consoles, Mobile Phones, Electric Cars), I’d say VR is actually doing quite well. When people say the adoption rate for VR is disappointing, I feel this is because the early predictions were insane, and I can’t think of anyone serious in the industry who took them at face value.
The demarcation between Virtual Reality and Real Reality is becoming a little blurred — just about anything that exists in the real world can be simulated in VR. As the technology advances, the expectation and excitement surrounding potential applications are reaching new heights. It could be used for a variety of business, marketing, training, education and social purposes. The potential is limitless and restricted only, perhaps, by the human imagination.
Content is the key to VR adoption
Unless they have been living under a rock for the past about 30 years, almost everyone has heard of ‘virtual reality.’ We asked Hadrien what, in his opinion, is the most exciting use case for VR; he champions location-based entertainment (LBE) as one of the most long-term potentials. On this, he said, “I often hear LBE is a transitional state for VR, but I’m a huge believer in LBE as a viable vertical for immersive content, be it narrative, musical, experiential, gaming, or all of those things.”
Addressing whether there is room for smaller studios to flourish in the VR space, Hadrien referred to current situation with content development, “VR is a great space to be in right now, as it doesn’t really make sense for incumbents from other industries in entertainment – film and games, essentially – to enter the space just yet. The market, while growing, is just not big enough for them to justify the type of investments they’re used to, which means there is still a lot of space for smaller studios.”
“At the same time, we’re progressively moving past the purely experimental times, and slowly closing the feedback loop with the user base,” he concluded. “This means we’re getting feedback on our experiences. And this is where things become exciting: creators are less and less creating in a vacuum, but more and more building for an audience. Getting back to the first question, this is the first step towards mass adoption.”
Case 1: Revolutionizing architecture
In architecture is a discipline that requires a good sense of space and a strong awareness of how a building or structure relates to its surroundings. VR allows architects to not only see their design before it’s constructed but also to create 360º panoramas that they can share with clients.
“When our customers present a space to their client in [virtual reality], they can make changes to the space,” CEO of DesignVR, Doug Clark explained to Americaninno.com. “When those are made, they can see the budgetary impact. Then, they can complete the project with an e-commerce transaction.”
This application takes a 3D CAD file and converts it into a VR presentation using DesignVR. An additional benefit of VR in architecture is to disagreements that invariably creep up between architects, engineers, clients, interior designers, and contractors.
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