A trend that has made itself impossible to ignore over the last few years, the fervent anticipation for virtual and augmented reality technologies has lead to a universal stream of updates and product wars as companies compete for digital supremacy. The idea of virtual reality is far from new, with various technologies spanning decades hoping to breach the gap between the digital and physical world. However, while these innovative ideas have seen limited traction in the past, technological advancements and a handful of innovative development groups have pushed VR into the public eye, creating an almost-audible explosion of interest as these products begin to make their way onto the global market.
But what IS Virtual Reality?
In simple terms, virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation that attempts to offer its user the experience of interactivity or exploration through the use of specially-designed hardware such as a headset or handheld device. While these systems have been heralded as a step forward for immersive gaming, giving players the opportunity to experience virtual worlds without the barrier of an observed screen, the use of this technology is far from limited to the realms of virtual exploration.
A Boon to Businesses
As an example, developers of virtual reality in Australia have brought vr app development into the world of business. As VR offers unprecedented interactivity for clients, many are theorising that augmented reality is going to be the next step forward for companies hoping to bridge the gap between their services and their prospective clientele. Large brands such as Ikea have already begun to dabble with the possibilities this technology allows, giving users the opportunity to view various furnishings in their home prior to making a decision as to whether they should make a purchase, all through the camera of their smart phone.
A Gift to Gaming
However, all eyes are on the video game application of these perception-altering pieces of hardware, as various companies attempt to offer something comparatively new and exciting against the technology of their peers. The HTC Vive, a system developed by Valve and HTC, professes to be the first of its kind in the world of virtual reality development. Offering a “room scale” experience that utilises sensors to map out the surroundings of the player, and motion tracking handheld devices to interact with the virtual environment, it is said by many to be the most immersive of the VR platforms. With that said, they are not the only companies gaining traction in the virtual revolution.
Often credited with revitalising the virtual reality market, after a long standing decline in public interest since the 1990’s, the Oculus Rift gave new hope for this type of software, and launched a new age of viral excitement for the total-emersion technology war. While clearly not the first technology to attempt player immersion (the argument could be made that Nintendo’s ill-fated Virtual Boy attempted this in July of 1995), the original prototypes of the Rift were able to emulate a sense of depth and perception that was completely unheard of in past attempts. Though it is true that there were initial criticisms for its low-res display, slightly sluggish movement, and consistent bouts of nausea after extended play (issues that have been improved upon in subsequent iterations), it showed the potential and power that those fascinated by the possibilities of VR development had waited for, and the rest of the world have been quick to follow.
It may be unclear what the next few years hold for this technology, but with Facebook purchasing Oculus for an immense two-billion dollar investment and a fight for more impressive technology still on the rise, there is quite a lot to be excited about in this world of virtually limitless possibilities.