Virtual Reality is at your doorsteps and it will change your life. As one of the biggest technological breakthroughs today, Virtual Reality is expected to have a transformative effect on every single industry and on all walks of life. It is capable of turning dreams into reality – flying a dragon in the Nordic Alps, mauling down alien invaders alongside the Avengers, or even having dinner with the brightest philosophical minds in history. With widespread commercial applications, Virtual Reality is also far more than just immersive entertainment. Sooner than you expect, it will be used to showcase luxury apartments, allow family and friends from across the globe to converse in the same room, and even facilitate celebrity curated shopping experiences. With these in mind, it is unsurprising the virtual landscape is expected to be worth $150 billion and have over one billion users by 2020. All in all, born prematurely in the 1920s, suffering a harsh death in the 1990s, and being resurrected single-handedly by a humble Kickstarter campaign in 2012, Virtual Reality has a ground-breaking, one-of-a-kind story which is unseen in all modern technology.
We have prepared 15 of the most insane facts about Virtual Reality. Virtual Reality is far more than a geeky buzzword and you can experience it yourself today.
15. Not A New Concept
Virtual Reality has been around for decades. As early as the 1920s, engineers were building the most basic devices, in the form of flight simulators. As a concept, it was first proposed by the science fiction author Stanley Weinbaum in the 1930s, who envisaged users of special goggles venturing into fictional worlds. Then, the first true Virtual Reality prototype was developed in the 1950s by cinematographer Morton Heilig. In the form of a “Experience Theatre”. Heilig’s Sensorama incorporated stereo speakers, a vibrating seat, and even smell facilitators to appeal to every one of the user’s senses. This device marked a turning point in Virtual Reality history, and the modern form factor of head mounted devices were piloted 10 years later. That said however, these early devices failed to capture the market as they lacked in immersion and were outrageously expensive. Even the later models, for instance, the EyePhones (yes, as it was bizarrely named), would set you back $49,000.
14. Biggest Tech Flops
It was not until the 1990s that Virtual Reality was commercialized and became one of the biggest flops in tech history. Despite gathering public interest, devices were significantly overpriced and failed to deliver the quality assumed in the media hype. Major tech brands, including SEGA, Apple and Nintendo, jumped the bandwagon too prematurely without understanding the limitations of the technology. Whilst they piloted sensory, tracking and 3D technology, their devices were either too expensive (Apple’s iGlasses), or are based on stereoscopic 3D monitors which were rigged to resemble Virtual Reality (Nintendo’s Virtual Boy). In any event, none of these delivered a commercially viable product. Moreover, the primitive nature of these technologies resulted in a disorientating experience, giving you more motion sickness than fun. All these factors forced the innovative technology to a harsh death before it could unleash its true potentials.
13. More than Gaming
Conceptually speaking, Virtual Reality is much more than gaming. In a nutshell, it is a new medium for users to see and feel the world. Anything that can benefit from multi-sensory simulation can make use of the technology. Despite what you might think, millennials aren’t its only market. Recent search suggests that more than 60% of Baby Boomers are interested in Virtual Reality. Yes, the gaming industry is the most obvious sector to endorse Virtua Reality and eight out of ten devices are gaming orientated. However, the most world changing applications are totally unrelated to gaming. Prominent industries it is affecting include the travel industry, where consumers are offered virtual catalogues providing them with a taste of their planned destinations. It likewise has endless entertainment potentials, especially in user-generated content. Currently, 3D content is captured with Virtual Reality cameras, then shared on popular platforms such as the YouTube Virtual Reality Channel (which already homes 2.6 million 3D content creators).
12. Resurrected Through Kickstarter
Virtual Reality tells the urban legend of a start-up singlehandedly resurrecting a technology which was long believed to be dead. Given the commercial disappointments of various devices, Virtual Reality was declared dead in the 1990s. The industry retained its sentiments in the 2000s and abandoned development of the risky technology. It was in 2012 that a small developer called Oculus VR quietly started a Kickstarter campaign seeking a $250,000 funding for its headset, the Oculus Rift. Promising to deliver a genuine, yet affordable Virtual Reality experience, the project took the world by a storm and raised a total of $2.4 million. Oculus seized the perfect opportunity at the perfect time, as the 2000s saw the development of software and hardware necessary to facilitate a truly immersive experience. Oculus’s device was so successful that Facebook later purchased the company for $2 billion. Witnessing Oculus’ crowdfunding success, tech giants worldwide realised the opportunities in Virtual Reality and have since invested hundreds of millions in Virtual Reality.
11. Enabled by Smartphones
With 2.87 billion smartphone users forecasted for 2020, smartphones are the biggest enablers for Virtual Reality. In some countries such as the Philippines, smartphones reached higher penetration than computers and became the primary device to the access the Internet. Given user familiarity, these devices will inevitably be at the forefront of Virtual Reality. You are probably already used to having all your entertainment, music, games and video content on your smartphone. Furthermore, smartphones also solve the portability concern of Virtual Reality, with the form factor now being a simple add-on to an already portable smartphone. More recently, Samsung became the first smartphone company to experiment with Virtual Reality with its Galaxy Gear VR. Having said these, it will be just a matter of time before Virtual Reality headsets are sold alongside all smartphones.
10. Hand In Hand with Tech
Virtual Reality is also expected to advance in a complementary manner with many other disruptive technologies. It can be easily combined with Artificial Intelligence, particularly in the property sector. For example, it is a risk-free solution to monitor nuclear power plants. Dangerous radioactive areas beyond human reach can be inspected via a virtual simulation, which then maps out a work plan for a maintenance robot. Moreover, the two technologies are being used together to aid the recovery of amputee victims. Furthermore, Virtual Reality can greatly leverage upon Big Data, through understanding the conscious and subconscious feedback of global users to continuously strive for a more immersive experience. It can even make use of the blockchain, in making users’ immersive experiences more private and immune to data attacks. All in all, Virtual Reality has truly unbounded potentials, given that it is capable of growing exponentially with other disruptive technologies.
9. Final Form of Communication
Social media is the one single industry which will see the most explosive growth of Virtual Reality. Numerous academics and commentators have suggested that Virtual Reality will become the final and most advanced form of communication. How you communicate was transformed once by the telephone, then by the Internet, and now one final time by Virtual Reality. With the aid of immersive technology, you can hang out with anyone from any location in the world, in your own living room. At a broader level, through making all communication face-to-face and real-time, it makes distance meaningless. It goes without saying that when these capabilities mature, every traditional social media platform will be expected to incorporate Virtual Reality. Having said these, social Virtual Reality capable of completely reshape communication as we know it.
8. Bigger, Richer Cousin
There is also a lesser-known variant of Virtual Reality, called Augmented Reality, which has equal, if not greater potentials. Whilst Virtual Reality creates a virtual world for its users, Augmented Reality overlays virtual elements into the real world. Its capabilities were best demonstrated through the global phenomenon of Pokémon Go, which took the world on a run (literally) in a way it has never seen before. In its first 3 months since its launch, it was already installed 550 million times and had generated $470 million in revenue. The potential applications of this alternative technology is limitless, especially when incorporated into smart glasses. Here, it is capable of transforming all controls and configuration into a tangible experience, including driving and gaming. Compared to that of fully immersive experiences, the processing requirements of Augmented Reality is much lower, allowing for easier adoption.
7. Ultra-Realistic Modelling
In the form of 3D modelling, Virtual Reality has been adopted by many extremely prominent industries. The healthcare sector has showed immense interest in the technology and has implemented its use in almost every arm of its operations. Virtual Reality modelling allows patient diagnostics to be holistic and more accurate than ever before. You see, 3D models are combined with scans and ultrasounds to precisely identify the condition. Modelling is further used at the treatment stage to identify the optimal location for surgical incision. Of course, simulators also allow medical students to carry out life-like virtual surgeries without using a cadaver. Virtual models are likewise endorsed by the construction sector, in allowing engineers and architects to closely observe how spaces fit together. Along similar lines, interior designers are also using 3D modelling in drafting floor plans. With that said, yes, Virtual Reality can even save your life and make your house much safer.
6. Massive in Education and Training
Given its educational potentials, even teachers have welcomed Virtual Reality with open arms. Without a doubt, no other learning method is able to offer you the hands-on and hyper realistic experience delivered by Virtual Reality. Instead of teaching students verbally, teachers can invite students to directly witness and even participate in scientific and historical events. Virtual Reality may also be the only viable learning solution for disadvantaged learners, particularly those with autism or social anxiety. Recent research illustrates that student attention increased by an astonishing 90% and assessment results also increased by 35% when learning via Virtual Technology. In addition, because of the disruptive technology’s ability in generating any scene imaginable, it has also been widely used for multidisciplinary technical training. Pilots, paramedics and firemen are provided with the opportunity to master their skills through enduring all kinds of settings and scenarios. With these in mind, Virtual Reality can make people from all walks of life more skilled than ever before.
5. The Next Holy Grail
Proponents of Virtual Reality would tell you that it is the next Gold Rush in the history of technological advancement. This Holy Grail mentality is much reflected in the enormous investments that major global brands are dumping into the technology. As you can expect, tech giants have been the pioneers of Virtual Reality, with companies such as Facebook, Google, Samsung and HTC closely competing to outclass each other. Furthermore, online retailers and start-ups have likewise joined the race, following the footsteps of Oculus VR. In fact, there are now 183 Virtual Reality companies listed on Amazon and 330 Virtual reality start-ups listed on Angellist. Admittedly, expressions of interest also go beyond tech companies. Recent surveys estimate that 75% of the top names on the Forbes list has invested into Virtual Reality. Like other products, this fierce competition created a vibrant market offering all kinds of devices with a great range of price points. You can blow five figures to fully submerge into a fictional world, or you can spend $15 (yes, you read that correctly) to try out Virtual Reality using the Google Cardboard. The choice is completely yours.
4. Used by the US Military
In a similar way to what you see in Hollywood sci-fi movies, Virtual Reality has now been adopted by all three branches of the US military. The ability to simulate any terrain and environment is invaluable to soldiers in training, in providing them with the ability to develop their combat skills in the most chaotic circumstances. This type of virtual boot camps is essential for soldiers, as prior to Virtual Reality, they would be completely shocked to confront the harsh realities of the battlefield. Teamwork is likewise paramount on the battlefield, and virtual simulation provides teams the perfect opportunity to bond and learn to work cohesively. Certainly, the navy and air force are also making use of the technology, in the form of submarine and flight simulations. All these Virtual Reality applications allow troops to be battlefield ready without risking being exposed to the risk of injury. On the other hand, it is also used medically for the treatment of soldiers affected by battlefield trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Without exaggeration, Virtual Reality is capable of winning wars.
3. Launch into Outer Space
Virtual Reality is even playing a major part in the global space mission, with NASA currently testing the technology across multiple applications. In particular, a major challenge NASA has been facing is the remote control of exploration vehicles and robots. Virtual Reality presents a very elegant solution for this. Through simulating the terrain experienced by the vehicle or robot and linking it with motion sensing equipment, engineers can seamlessly operate a robot arm with simple human gestures. You won’t believe this, but there are also multiple Virtual Reality apps that you can download today that can launch you into outer space. Through these, you will be able to enjoy a 360-degree experience of the planet of your choice. Floating in space? Yes. Surfing down on a meteor shower? Checked. Even a field trip to Mars? No problems, strap on a headset and the entire universe is your oyster.
2. Unfinished Technology
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Virtual Reality is that it is still an unfished technology and will continue to innovate and improve year by year. The biggest current challenge for Virtual Technology is ironically that it is “too real”. That is, your brain is tricked into thinking that you are moving around, whilst your body still feels that you are stationary. This stark inconsistency causes you to experience motion sickness. Along similar lines, your other senses might also conflict with each other and make you nauseous. As a result, multisensory research, the exploration of how human senses work with each other, is the biggest topic in Virtual Reality research right now. The industry is also striving to innovate in the area of device input. Here, the ultimate goal is to totally abandon the need for physical controllers, and instead to interact with your virtual environment with full body tracking. With all these moving forward with great momentum, you will soon see Virtual Reality so natural that they are indistinguishable from reality.
1. “Dirty” Virtual Reality
In all seriousness, Virtual Reality will completely transform the adult industry, and perhaps even the concept of hanky panky itself. Sex sells and so do racy themed experiences. For centuries, from basic adult toys to 3D magazines, the industry has been searching for the most realistic sexual engagement. Many virtual porn companies, such as Camasutra VR, are currently developing virtual simulators and many prototypes have already been showcased to the market. With developers continue to work on improving motion sensors and haptic feedback, Virtual Reality promises users the ability to have coitus with whoever, whenever, and in whatever position they want. If there’s one thing which benefits from being realistic, it is hanky panky. In addition, by hooking both ends with headsets and sensors, Virtual Reality can also offer intimacy to partners who are geographically isolated from each other. Even if it achieves nothing else, Virtuality Reality will take over the adult industry by storm and redefine how you go about doing it.
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