Virtual reality isn’t a new concept. What is new, however, is that it’s actually becoming accessible to consumers. For those unfamiliar to what virtual reality is, it is, in short, a computer-generated simulation of 3-D images or environments. At this year’s CES, one of the largest consumer electronics show in the world, VR innovation gained recognition as usual, but this time around, displays and demos proved exactly how the technology is being integrated into the lives of ordinary people. There are many reasons as to why and how this VR technology is becoming available to consumers and will be increasingly integrated in our lives.
Advancing technology has moved the needle in supporting the execution of ultra high-definition images. For instance, graphic processing units like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor help to generate VR video and images at lightning-fast speed and enable smooth functionality within everyday mobile devices (think – smartphones, laptops and tablets). Furthermore, virtual technology pioneers and tech giants are forming partnerships to develop ground-breaking VR innovation for the public to enjoy. Take VR developer Oculus Rift and Samsung, for example—together they have produced Gear VR, which is VR-enabled equipment. A Samsung Galaxy smartphone pairs with an Oculus Rift-powered Gear VR headset to bring consumers an augmented experience right in the palm of their hands (or more accurately, on their heads).
In addition to technology companies doing their part to infiltrate virtual reality into the consumer market, telecomm companies such as T-Mobile offer a virtual reality device with purchase of the new Samsung Galaxy smartphone. These promotions incentivize customers to utilize the latest VR technology and will become more and more prevalent as VR gains commercial popularity.
With the exponential rise in mobile device usage, the mobile gaming industry is booming and expected to become a $45 billion market by 2018. This directly relates to the growing investment in mobile VR gaming. The aforementioned Gear VR headset is just the start of how game developers, tech innovators and service providers will continue to play into the gamer’s thirst for more augmented and immersive gaming experiences.
There are many other industries that are also beginning to integrate VR technology. The healthcare industry, for instance, is applying the technology to everyday practice—whether it’s training for doctors, treating patients from afar, or patient recovery, VR tech is improving the process of healthcare and moving people towards better well-being, efficiently.
The customer shopping experience is being amplified by VR integration as well. Retailers like IKEA offer customers a chance to create their own furnished home before hitting the buy button, giving them freedom to pick and choose their dream home decor and helping them visualize it before making a purchase decision.
Even Facebook is getting in on the VR bandwagon. Mark Zuckerberg, who bought Oculus Rift for $2 billion dollars, is promising to make the social networking experience even more engaging and social via VR platform. Facebook recently announced its formation of “Social VR” teams that are currently integrating the technology into the social network. Once Facebook unleashes a worldwide social experience in virtual reality, the rest of the industries in the world are bound to follow the leader and incorporate the technology.
It’s an exciting time for virtual reality innovation. For the first time in it’s longstanding existence, VR is becoming accessible to consumers for practical use. The initial VR-integrated executions are just the start to a future in 3D, and the industries investing in its success now will guarantee that it’ll become a staple in everyday life.