In December 2014, we predicted 15 technology trends that are significant enough to ‘change everything’ from 2015 onwards. One of these trends was Virtual Reality: which could be ‘the next screen’. At this point, there probably aren’t many people who don’t know what we’re talking about, but, we will refresh your minds with the earlier definition:
It involves the production of simulations of reality, using technology. You’ve probably seen this in the movies (The Lawnmower Man is perhaps the best known of all): you (the viewer) wear a pair of glasses that create the feeling of being elsewhere.
In TcTrends, there is more information on the background and history of Virtual Reality – from its ‘resurrection’ at the hands of Palmer Luckey on Kickstarter, with the famous Oculus Rift campaign that raised 2.4 million dollars, to the buyout by Facebook in 2014.
And for anyone who hasn’t seen the famous demo with the roller coaster, here’s one of many versions, with a few of the reactions that many of us had:
We already know what it is, and how it started, but: where can it take us?
Though it hasn’t even been up to a year since TcTrends, there are new and extremely relevant updates on the Virtual Reality environment.
Oculus is here. In 2016, you can buy your kit.
The time has come: at the start of next year, the Oculus Rift will be in stores. The price for the total package, with a PC included, will be around $1,400; the price of the glasses separately is not known, however, it is estimated to be around $350 to 400.
Although we have quite a few options to give us an idea of what awaits us (especially thanks to the VR Cardboard which we can get for less than 5 euros, we can begin to better comprehend the real experience), and now, more than ever, I think most of us are especially eager to try the genuine Oculus Rift. Some of its developments will include the control of the Xbox One; and we will also have the possibility to use Oculus Touch, which was developed by Oculus to enhance the user experience.
Image source: Official Oculus website.
Microsoft is committed to Oculus; Sony will go their own way
Microsoft’s bid for Oculus is clear: Phil Specter was at the launch event, and the control that will come with the Oculus is that of the Xbox One. In addition, Microsoft will develop the technology that will enable streaming from the Oculus to the XBox.
Sony will develop their own helmet, to exploit (we assume) using PlayStation 4.
Image source: Official website of Project Morpheus.
Immersive experiences, but really
The first time I put on the Oculus and tried the rollercoaster demo, I freaked out. The feeling of ‘being there’, feeling dizzy, being able to turn your head … it was amazing! What could break the illusion? The (lack of) control. This is why experiments like the Omni ‘walker’ or the Cyberith have so much potential: they put you right at the center of the action.
The terrifying experiences will be incredible:
Soon, we will all be producers of Virtual Reality
At Google’s last I/O event, they had a couple of juicy pieces of news about Virtual Reality:
- They had improved their cardboard model. And, it is now fully compatible with iPhones and any mobile phones 6 inches long.
- They announced the launch of ‘Jump’ – a technological device that can mount16 cameras, synchronize video and create VR experiences with the camera(s).
GoPro has already prepared their system:
Many players have joined in, and it is now so difficult to know who will win
That virtual reality will play an important role in the coming years seems clear. What is not quite as clear is how the market will be organized: an open standard with different manufacturers? Competing proprietary platforms that will include those with incompatible technology? One single player that will dominate the entire market? For now, it seems that we are leaning towards the second option: proprietary platforms competing with each other. This is similar to what is currently happening in the game-console market. This is likely to lead to a monopoly or perhaps, in the end open standards will triumph – this remains to be seen.
If I had to bet, in the next two years, I’d bet on an emerging and very dynamic environment, with experiences mainly videogame-oriented experiences, as well as those built on adult films and ‘strange’ experiments:
- A dominant Oculus, with strong competition from Sony in the video game market (where the PlayStation 4 is the market leader).
- Many experiments by other companies, which will surely fail in terms of the market.
- ‘Low cost’ Virtual Reality that works with mobile phones: a worse experience, but accessible to nearly anyone. You may even give the cardboard away with chewing gum (okay, I’m exaggerating; perhaps with newspapers and magazines rather). Here, adult films and other videos will help to popularize the technology in ‘no player’ audiences.
- Homemade production of virtual reality videos will gradually gain importance, though I don’t think that this will be the main driver of the market, but it will have its importance.
It seems that, for now, the main challenge is still that which the gamer audience still faces; but the possibilities are endless, as they say.
Recently – to revisit the aforementioned Google Jump topic – we debated in Lidertarios on the future of this technology. This also involved the participation of Nico Alcalá (The Cosmonaut) whose latest project focuses on Virtual Reality. You may be interested in the debate.
Finally, the complete TcTrends has been available here:
Disclaimer: Gonzalo Martin, Managing Partner & Director at Tc, is a member of the advisory board of Future Lighthouse.