For the past several years, virtual reality technology has been looming as the next game-changing breakthrough in the computer and console gaming spheres. While it hasn’t quite fulfilled its potential as the “next big thing” yet, the top contenders in the gaming VR market — HTC, Oculus and Sony — may soon be experiencing an industry-wide shakeup that could spur future developments.
New adopters are finding new applications for the technology that are spilling over into disparate fields outside of gaming, finding success in ways that the originators of VR tech might not have envisioned even a few years ago.
In the gaming VR market, Sony has taken a clear and unexpected lead over its rivals by offering a slightly less powerful headset at a more affordable price. This development paved a way forward for VR technology, at least as far as gaming is concerned; the reduced cost allows customers to come in greater numbers. As reported by Business Insider, this trend is expected to continue, spurring on short-term growth that will increase competition and drive innovation.
While current sales of gaming headsets could be viewed as disappointing, the NY Times notes that game developers are crafting and adapting to the VR space . The adaptation of “popular open-world games,” such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, along with first-person shooters like Doom, drives hype and motivates the most “passionate and creative innovators” to continue their push to craft more refined VR experiences for gamers:
“Now developers are trying out new technologies and ways to apply virtual reality, like artificial intelligence, voice recognition and co-presence, essentially a multiplayer experience in virtual reality that allows two or more players to play together.”
The NY Times report goes on to cite a few examples of upcoming games that will incorporate new features, including Starblood Arena and the “interactive story” Rainbow Crow. Developments are occurring outside the personal gaming market as well. A prime example of this is Playdium VR, Honk Kong’s “first virtual reality gaming arcade.”
Offering a “contemporary update on those old smoky game arcades,” the Playdium leverages the power of HTC’s powerful Vive VR headsets to deliver fast, fun interactive experiences. The games are simple in concept and execution, and the technology is still in its nascent stages, but endeavors such as these show there is significant potential for VR gaming to gain widespread appeal:
“I can see the endless possibilities of VR, and Playdium is the first step to popular acceptance — not to mention, a lot of fun.”
VR technology might actually be making its largest strides beyond gaming. This month, Forbes reported that the declining prices of AR and VR tech have made it more accessible to a range of new industries including energy, defense, manufacturing, and healthcare.
These sectors have found multiple applications for the technology. OnComfort, for example, is applying VR in the fight against cancer; Osso and ImmersiveTouch are using VR tech to train surgeons; and filmmakers like Gina Kim are using the immersive tech to tell gripping stories with a previously unimaginable level of detail. VR technology is even worming its way into fields like marketing, physical fitness and movie theaters.
While it remains to be seen which of these avenues will yield the greatest results, the fact that VR tech has spread so far and so rapidly signals that this infant technology could soon make advances that permeate numerous aspects of day-to-day life.