The future of news: From mobile to VR/AR

An evolving technology that might enable us to consume news in more immersive and imaginative ways than ever before is coming: That is VR.

Over the past several years, mobile has been the nexus when we talk about the future of news, as smartphones became must-have and many people came to connect the Internet through their small screens, instead of laptop.

The Google’s announcement in April on the change in search preference underpinned the trend — they decided to make mobile-friendly websites appear higher on search results. Seemingly, everything goes mobile and we need to adapt ourselves.

But, is mobile the last change? No way. I think even 5 years later we’ll see different future from an extension of common sense we have right now.

Microsoft, the kind of old-fashioned tech giant, got attentions in the late January by introducing Hololens — virtual reality headset that enables us to bring high-definition holograms to our lives seamlessly. Microsoft calls it as “holographic computing” and said it would be the standard of computers in the next era.

Here’s the world we can see through Hololens.

It might look like geekish, but Microsoft is not only one who sees the virtual reality is the future of computing. Google invested $542 million in Magic Leap, Florida-based startup that is making something about augmented reality and some kind of “lightweight wearable,” according to Google SVP Sundar Pichai.

On the stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in spring, Pichai described virtual reality as “a nice evolution of computing.” Although Magic Leap is still veiled in secrecy, they seem to be creating technology that projects a 3D image onto the viewer’s retina so that users can avoid inconvenience like Google glass.

“Logically, I know there isn’t a hulking four-armed, twisty-horned blue monster clomping in circles in front of me, but it sure as hell looks like it,” said Rachel Metz, reporter from MIT Technology review who experienced cinematic-reality technology Magic Leap is working on.

The number of people taking about AR/VR is increasing year by year. The future of news is inseparable with the future of computing, since we know that mobile has been a game changer.

Let’s go back to news. What would be the format of news in such an immersive environment? Will newspapers’ written news still survive? Will people be eager to consume more visualized contents? Like it or not, we, as journalists, need to answer those questions in the not-so-distant future.