Is VR about to change the world?
In the last few years, we’ve seen VR go from sci-fi movies to living rooms. And it’s true VR systems are expensive and impractical for most. So far the application of this technology has been focused on entertainment.
But imagine an entire world in the VR space, a network like the Internet that would enable anyone to do anything connected in the VR world. A world that might look like the one described in the book Ready Player One.
We are very close to that fictional reality.
There is a potential to turn the world into a divided one, where those who have money are granted an enormous advantage. VR is on the verge of bringing real educational benefit. With companies like zSpace, Alchemy VRand Immersive VR Education already releasing products to the world. It will also change how we build and design in the physical world.
The world is already becoming more and more digitized as most spend all of their day looking at some form of screen. The move into the VR space is just the next logical step from screen to full immersion.
With all of these options, what’s holding the market back? Why isn’t there a VR machine in each and every living room, and beside every desk at work? I believe the market is simply too fractured, with too many software developers and too many systems.
While there is a great possibility to improve lives, people aren’t willing to pay that much for a closed experience that isn’t really shared. Creating cooperative and social environments is the only way VR is going to move into the future and into every home.
The VR world could take a lesson from video games. The most popular of them require cooperation and competition. Very few single player games without these elements, are becoming very uncommon.
At the top levels of eSports, a championship final can look a lot like a live football game or a tennis match. Players battle it out on stage, while a live audience cheers their favorite player or team on. Gameplay is posted up on a jumbo screen as casters describe the intricacies of the strategies.
The recent League of Legends World Championship had a prize pool of $2 million, with a grand prize of $1 million split between the 5 top players in the world. The Grand Championships were held in Los Angeles at the Pepsi Center in front of a crowd of over 13,000. Over 8 million viewers worldwide logged in to watch the 2013 Championship Game. To give you some comparison, in the 2013 Stanley Cup Championship, the average per-game viewership was only 5.4 million.
More users need to engage with the system in order for the community aspect to become real. It’s almost there but still relatively few people know about VR.
VR networks should be free to engage in like facebook is free to access. This way more people can join and the network can build value in the VR world.
Google’s version of VR, The Google Cardboard, offers a good solution on the cheap. the This is a great first step in getting a VR set in the hands of every family and at an affordable cost. This is actually a very important step in the development of VR because it gives context to what is possible and what a VR set feels like.
Daydream will also offer integration with the Unity and Unreal game engines, which offers developers a way to turn apps into full VR experiences. Brands like HBO and Netflix are already involved with the project.
We all imagine the future of VR as a fully immersive experience, like the VIVE or the Oculus rift, but really its Google Cardboard that’s done the most for the world of VR.
Which brings up an even greater point, do we need the world full of VR? Does VR have the potential to save a life? No, but it does help the world dream a little bit more to dream the impossible, and maybe to help the world in more meaningful ways.
While google doesn't look like it will be going bankrupt anytime soon, the google play store is still experiencing some of their own problems. Even though there are nearly twice as many android users than iOS, about twice as much money is spent in IOs compared to google play.
A little bit like the wild west of the internet the google play store offers great access, but many question the quality of apps they recieve.
Besides the high level of competition in the Google Play store, the hardware business of VR is also rife with conflict and competition. Along with Google cardboard, there is also Oculus, VIVE, and a number of other VR systems all competing for your attention and for software exclusivity.
According to Motherboard article, a number of developers have announced they will stop creating software for the Oculus VR system until its founder Palmer Luckey resigns. It was recently reveled that Luckey hosted a pro-Trump fundraiser, and Luckey’s Twitter profile reveals his support for the republican candidate. While his support of Trump is shocking, his comments on twitter are causing game developers to leave the company. This a critical time for Oculus as they hope to grab a greater majority of the market and claim their place as one of the heavyweights in the emerging VR World.
Like almost every other aspect of American society, the world of VR is not immune to a tense political climate.
This taps into a growing fear that the world of VR will turn into a world of those who have VR, and those who don’t; creating even greater social and political tensions.
While the technology has a great potential to connect those around the world, it has yet to be seen if that is the direction the industry is heading.
Many people, including myself, don’t support Trump. Isn’t it Luckey’s right to say what he would like and vote for who he pleases? Freedom of speech is a critical tenant of American society and many hope to see the VR world taken in a similar direction.
Another main obstacle of VR is the view that VR is purely for entertainment. That is also about to drastically change. Minecraft, the popular kid’s video game, has just released their education version.
This brings real value to the VR world, it has the potential to help make the world a little better.
Minecraft education is taking the world by storm and showing how games can help kids develop critical problem-solving skills and spacial awareness.
This is changing perception and even the way we think about human interaction with the virtual world.
And very soon the world of Minecraft will be brought to the VR world, allowing kids to interact in maker space across boundaries and borders.
Not every community needs to have the highest level of fidelity but allowing greater access is critical to the future of VR, as it has the potential to change how we see the world.
With greater access and freedom of expression comes a great deal of the ugly. Unfortunately, this is the cost we must pay if we want to see an unrestricted future in VR.
The question still remains, how best to deal with the unknown ugliness that will undoubtedly pop up.
While I find Luckey’s choice for this year’s election disappointing, it is even more disappointing that developers are deciding not to publish software because of it. This only fractures the VR community causing more delays to a truly democratized VR experience for all.
So it is true VR is about to change the world, but it will be a long time before that change is actually for good.