What is it?
Virtual Reality (VR) which is the name given to the technology capable of placing the user in an immersive, alternate world. The user is able to experience a real-time, interactive environment through a computer monitor, a VR head-mounted device or even a smartphone screen. Via advanced coding, a convincing sense of presence (telepresence) is created which is becoming increasingly realistic due to the speed of current technological advances. VR offers a sensory experience that is mainly visual and auditory, however, it can also include touch and smell. One of the greatest selling points of VR is that the user can interact with the virtual environment. The scope of these environments is a deep as your imagination and runs from HD video quality real life experiences to outer-space simulations.
How did the technology develop?
The concept of VR was devised by Jaron Lanier in the 1980s, however the ideas surrounding virtual realities began in the sixties when Ivan Sutherland created what is thought to have been the first VR headset. Originally, VR was the premise of the multi-billion dollar gaming industry. Following the hype of the previous decades, VR failed to live up to expectations during the 1980s. The next ten years witnesses a revived interest in virtual technologies and in 1994 Apple released its first VR product – QuickTime VR. In 2010, Palmer Luckey founded Oculus VR, breaking the mound with an original headset that boasted a 90-degree field of vision. This prototype would go on to become the Oculus Rift. Luckey’s company was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014. Since then, the excitement surrounding VR has returned in full force, with various companies developing competing platforms and headsets.
Despite its roots in the gaming industry, it was quickly realised that VR had far greater potential. Virtual Reality is currently used in construction, architecture, house sales, film, health care, marketing, fashion, education and even the porn industry. The persuasive, immersive nature of the technology makes it a very valuable tool for customer relations. Many companies have developed special VR experiences, designed to encourage consumers to engage with a particular product or brand.
The computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment
In a report of April 2015, digi-capital.com forecasted that VR will have generated combined hardware and software revenues of $30 billion by the year 2020. According to the report, most of the sales will continue to come from the gaming industry. A similar prediction made by superdataresearch.com estimated that, by 2020, VR software revenue will hit $25 billion, with hardware sales reaching $15 billion.
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