A few years ago, asking people to imagine themselves in alternate universes at the click of a button seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie, but today that’s a reality: virtual reality.
Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated, physical-like environment created by computers using immersive design and sight and sound. It’s one of the most exciting technologies that has been developed, and it is only growing more popular every year.
In fact, according to a 2020 report, “the market size of consumer virtual reality hardware and software is set to spike from 6.2 billion US dollars to more than 16 billion U.S. dollars by 2022.” With figures like this, it’s worth exploring just why people are so excited to get behind VR, and what its future trends in the industry look like.
Virtual reality today is already making huge strides in its application ranging from games to education, but the future has even more exciting things in store:
Chunky headsets and short battery life are two things that give VR a bad name. Thankfully, the future of VR promises improvements in both of these areas. Google’s Daydream View, for instance, comes with customizable hardware, 12-hour battery life, and a remote — all at an affordable price. Headsets in the future are expected to have that and more, including in-built cameras to blend the real and virtual. In fact, an article in Forbes points to Apple’s possible 2020-2021 release of 8k VR/AR glasses. These glasses could be untethered from computers or smartphones, have built-in cameras, and operate on Apple processors. This is far superior to what is currently in the market.
VR Meets AI
Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) unique ability to recognize, learn, and then generate patterns when combined with VR could mean a whole new world of possibilities. A glimpse into this future comes in the form of the use of artificial intelligence to reduce motion sickness in VR users presented by LG. In addition, Facebook’s DeepFocus framework uses AI for focus effects, and Google has used machine learning tools to add controller-tracking to standalone headsets.
The ingenious use of sight and sound makes VR an immersive escape, but users still feel the “virtual” more than the “reality.” In the future, expect all that to change with haptic feedback.
Specifically, “Haptic feedback systems will simulate the sense of touch through gloves or other wearable devices,” reports Maryville University. Not only will you be seeing and hearing new things in these virtual universes, but you’ll be able to touch them too.
The buzz 5g has created has developers dreaming of endless VR possibilities. With data speeds like never before, the Forbes article noted above predicts that VR data will be streamed to headsets directly from the cloud. What this means for consumers is that headsets won’t need to be tethered to high powerful PCs anymore, and as developers create high-quality graphics in the cloud, they can be streamed to the headset in real-time.
While these factors affect the technology itself, let’s also take a look at how consumers are expected to use VR differently in the future. Many people associate VR with gaming and entertainment, but future trends show that VR is making waves in applications beyond that. Research from the XR Industry Insight report shows that 65 percent of surveyed augmented reality (AR) companies are developing industrial applications and only 37 percent of them are building consumer products.
It’s no surprise that VR is helping to change the landscape of the healthcare system. Today, paramedics are using VR to rehearse and prepare for dangerous situations, and surgeons are simulating practice operations. Some companies are using VR to treat vision disorders as well as using VR to help individuals with autism develop social and communication skills.
Another project that paints a picture of the future of VR in healthcare is artist Sander Bos’ “Visionarium” psychedelic experience, which is helping researchers understand how psychedelic drugs affect patients. VR in healthcare is on a steady path. The global AR and VR market in healthcare is projected to hit 10.82 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
VR has become the talk of the education industry because of the incredible impact it’s already created, which is only set to increase. VR shown to make learning more engaging can be used to help students learn remotely and help them practice experiments and activities without physical risk.
VR also helps improve learning recall, as demonstrated by Stanford’s SOAE project. The project found that participants’ test scores on the subject of ocean acidification increased by more than 100 percent three weeks after their VR experience. Corporate education and training through VR are also set to rise. In fact, Walmart has already started using 17000 Oculus Go headsets to train employees in customer service.
As art, education, and entertainment progress, so will the advertising industry. Analytics Insight predicts that VR will be used in native advertising to give customers a seamless, up-close understanding of products to persuade purchasing decisions.
Although not yet completely mainstreamed, there’s no doubt VR will change the human experience. Virtual reality may have shot to fame because of immersive gaming and entertainment, but with its transformative abilities, the future looks bright for VR across the board.