The State of Virtual Reality: Where We Are, and What’s to Come in 2019
Throughout 2018, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking and writing about virtual reality (VR).
I’ve attended VR developer conferences, experimented with using different headsets, and have conducted research on public sentiment toward the technology.
Now, with VRX — an annual VR industry conference and expo — in session this week, I’ve gotten a glimpse at where things stand with this still-somewhat-emerging technology, and where it could go in the year to come.
As 2018 draws to a close, here is the state of VR.
VR doesn’t stand alone as the only technology designed to create an alternative, but somewhat lifelike reality.
By definition, Virtual Reality (VR) is the most immersive of the “reality” technologies, and usually involves wearing a headset that creates a 360-degree simulation — virtually placing the user into a digital environment or immersive experience designed to make it feel like he or she is actually there.
A few steps back from VR is augmented reality (AR), which essentially overlays a person’s real-life, physical environment with some sort of digital imagery that’s typically generated by a mobile device. One of the more notable examples of AR is the mobile app/game Pokémon GO, which uses the players’ GPS locations to help them “find” and “catch” digital creatures.
Mixed Reality (MR) can be thought of as “AR+”. It places digital creatures (or objects) in the same way an AR experience might, only with the ability of those objects to engage with the real, physical world around them — and vice-versa. This one-minute explainer from Microsoft helps to put MR into context.
Finally, there’s extended reality (XR), which is arguably the most emergent of the four technologies listed here. In essence, XR looks to combine VR, AR, and MR — in that it creates an immersive, virtual experience for the user, while also allowing that person to continue to see and interact with the physically world around her.
AR as a “Gateway Drug”
That was a descriptor assigned to AR technology by EndeavorVR Founder and CEO Amy Peck during a VRX panel discussion on the ubiquity of digital reality technology.
It’s a nod to the idea that, while not a fully immersive experience, AR can give users a preview into the world of VR and beyond, in part because it leverages technology and devices that many of us already use on a daily basis — like our smartphones.
“It’s a little overly-simplistic to think that just because someone uses mobile AR, they’re going to be a VR consumer,” said panelist Stephanie Llamas, VP of Strategy and Head of XR SuperData. “Mobile AR is taking something the user already knows and introducing a new use case that then will help them become more comfortable with virtual reality.”
And while it might take time for that introduction to manifest in the form of VR becoming a mainstream technology — more on that later — the journey of …read more
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