For decades virtual reality has existed purely in the realms of science fiction but now both the technology, and the investment needed to develop it, has become available to bring it within the reach of everyone.
But, before we go into the details, what exactly is virtual reality? Well the Oxford Dictionary definition is, “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 such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors”.
In practice this means being able to create an environment that is so realistic that, to the brain, it appears to be as real and solid as the world itself.
Given that it is now possible to create such realistic environments the applications of virtual reality are limitless and are starting to emerge in almost every sphere. For example it forms a central part of pilot training and means that many flight situations that would not be possible for practical and safety reasons can be easily simulated. Similarly, more and more medical schools are using immersive virtual reality experiences to involve students in realistic scenarios which it would simply be impossible to replicate in the real world.
In the leisure sphere, video games are an obvious area in which VR is set to take the entertainment up more than just a few levels giving players the chance to really be part of the action. Online poker is also set to be an area that exploits the technology to the full in being able to create the authentic casino atmosphere to make playing as authentic as the real game.
With such momentum behind it, it’s no wonder that huge sums of money are being invested in the technology from every direction. For example Facebook hit the headlines in 2015 when they paid $2 billion for the virtual reality technology start-up Oculus VR and other companies including Sony and Samsung are also sinking many millions into creating technology that they hope will be within everyone’s reach.
In fact Samsung laid down an important marker with the launch of their hotly-anticipated S7 Galaxy Edge phone earlier in the year when it came with its own VR headset. HTC have also seen the benefit of joining the VR revolution when, back in March 2016, their share price rose by 20% when they started taking pre-orders for their Vive headsets.
As to the future, it seems like VR may transform everything from the way that we watch TV to communicate with each other online. And, as for 3D cinema, that could soon seem as old fashioned as silent movies.
Guest Author: Lolita Di