/ Technology, Travel & Leisure

Will we all be living in virtual reality by the end of 2016?

Would you like to explore Buckingham Palace or the Great Barrier Reef from the comfort of your sofa? Virtual reality first hit the mainstream in the 1990s, but this year it seems to be staging a comeback. So will you be buying into it?

For those of you who may not have come across virtual reality (VR) before, it’s an immersive computer-stimulated experience which aims to re-create a real world experience usually using a headset.I used to think that VR headsets were aimed primarily at gamers – those that want to lose themselves in an action-packed adventure.

But it looks like VR tech companies are hoping to target a much bigger audience than that. So much so, that 2016 has been heralded as the year that VR will take off.

How can virtual reality be used?

Although it’s still early days, the VR market seems to be spreading its influence further and further. Teachers can use it to immerse their students in far-off lands (fancy exploring the surface of Mars?), film buffs can lose themselves as they journey along with their favourite characters and even car dealerships can use VR to help customers personalise their cars before purchase.

It might not be quite mass-market yet, but tech companies are trying to find more ways to bring VR into our homes and lives, so we’re likely to be seeing more examples popping up in the near future.

Will virtual reality take off this year?

No not this year (52%, 644 Votes)

No, and not in the near future either (26%, 325 Votes)

Yes I can see that happening (21%, 261 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,230

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Is virtual reality the ‘next big thing’?

It seems not everyone is totally convinced. Bill Reay told us on Facebook:

“People don’t need anything at all to become even more isolated from society, their peers, family and friends. It’s already bad enough that more and more people walk around with their heads down, locked onto their smartphones as if it’s essential to their lives.”

So far Oculus is the only company to announce a market price for their Virtual Reality headset called Rift, which will set you back a hefty £500. That may not be enough for a plane ticket to Australia, but it its a lot more expensive than clocking up some days out around the UK. And doesn’t 3D cinema already provide enough immersion into your favourite films? I’m not convinced that people would pay this rather than experience the real thing for themselves.

But then in settings such as schools and car dealerships, the VR set could well provide an extra way of learning or seeing something – and that’s where it could really come into its own.

So what do you think, could VR take off? Is it a tool that we can use to help educate children, or is it just another excuse for them, and us, to stay indoors and miss out on actual reality?

Comments
Member

I think it is very concerning that almost everyone (with the possible exception of the elderly) is walking around or sitting down with their heads down engrossed in their mobile phone or tablet. Soon this generation will have completely lost the art of live face to face conversation.
Everywhere you look, most people are on their phone or have their headphones in and appear to be walking along talking to themselves. I think the youngsters are either playing games or talking drivel to their friends.
The other potential danger is social media, where they tell the world and his dog about everything they are doing in their mundane little lives.
I love technology but I’m fearful that in communications, it could be the future generation’s downfall!

Member

Yes John I am with you on this already there are classes for young people with social; interaction problems as well as communicative problems leading to violence in some cases ,even psychiatric help . What worries me is the more we go down this road the more the commercial media has control over us ( well those dictated to it ) . You end up more easily influenced to buy-buy-buy- without the critical input of others in society and develop a wholly unpractical/down to earth viewpoint , great if all you do is sit in front of the box eating big macs and coke with fries when you have the physical and mental capabilities to interact with real ,live non-virtual human beings . Your computer can have virtual systems /programs /games , your modem/router can have virtual servers , even hackers are now in business with virtual websites hard to differentiate from the real thing . I equate this social scene on a par with illegal drugs which I have never taken but seen the results on people –completely detached from reality and even worse influenced to break the law as things they see they take as normal actions , dont tell me 20 years of war games on consoles/computers dont influence the figures for violence in society its been proved in the US in criminal trials , “collateral damage ” has a lot to answer for . There are places in the US where parents can send their kids to wean them off virtual “conditioning “

Member

Whilst not quite the same thing, having a walking difficulty, I find the virtual tours provided by organisations like the National Trust very useful: sometimes I have seen a lot more than my wife physically going round the building.

Member

The most interesting and exciting aspect of VR headsets for me will be the taking of 360º pictures and videos. Do this while out and about or on holiday and you will be able to re-visit at any time in a more immersive way.
Conventional 2D pictures are great and can help you recall the places you visit but they often do not do them justice. Even at the basic stage that this technology is already at, use of a cheap headset (e.g.Google Cardboard) and your smartphone, you can immerse yourself in a 360º picture with sound effects or a movie that makes you feel you are really there. Or if you want to visit somewhere before you actually go then google street view via google cardboard is pretty impressive.
If you have a relatively new smartphone then you should give it a try as you can pick up the basic headset from as little as £5. Taking pictures is possible with your smartphone but results are unpredictable (for me anyway) and not as good as professional set ups so I cant wait for the advent of cheaper HD 360º cameras for home use.

Member

I would love to try this, just for a day. I’m still waiting to have a go at 3D printing as well.

Member

Last year I attended a Video Games convention, and they were showcasing lots of exciting new gadgets which launch consumers into a virtual world. It was called Oculas Rift. It was really cool, but you sort of lose yourself on where you are for a while!

On the topic of 3D printing, same here wavechange – I’d definitely like to give this a shot at some point.

Member

I got quite excited there for a few seconds Andrew. I misread your comment and thought consumers were about to be launched into a virtuous world. . . . In our dreams !!

Member

Sorry to mistake your excitement, John! It was a nifty piece of equipment, however 🙂

Member

A 3d tour of museums, and their objects, would be interesting. It’s a step up from filming these attractions and watching on tv I suppose. On the one hand it gives access to places you might never ever get to see. On the other, there is plenty to visit physically (except for special groups of people) and 3d might give yet another excuse to sit on your sofa and do nothing; that is not good for your health

Member

It seems like Virtual Reality could therefore be a great option ‘every now and again’, as long as it didn’t become a daily routine. Is there any way of preventing or monitoring overuse, however, if consumers can buy their own headset to keep at home?

Member

VR will definitely have uses however I do not see it taking off quickly as a mass item given the straightened times we live in. From what I have read on the subject there is a problem in people becoming disorientated and sick.

Do I welcome it? Not really as I think we already have problems with ill-educated children and for that matter students where all the distractions available seem to leave to a dumbing down as symbols takeover from reading and thinking.

Member

At least in concept, VR was around in the late-1980s: From Wikipedia: “Better Than Life” is the second episode from Red Dwarf series two, and the eighth in the series run.[2] It was first broadcast on BBC2 on 13 September 1988.

Member

Brilliant episode – one of my favourites actually. The concept of holo addiction was also touched on in Star Trek around the early 90s. If VR does take off then there will definitely be psychological aspects and conditions to consider.

Member

Cheers George 🙂

VR addiction also features in Caprica, which was a spin-off from the 2003 reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

Member

I think the only way that VR will take off is with Sony’s PlayStation headset – I can only see them as a company to have a clout to get this off the ground. There are 100 games in development for it and Sony’s a movie studio so I’d expect to see their movies on it too. Oculus looks good, and its partnership with Microsoft could means it competes well with the PS VR headset. Still, the price is going to hold them back. Until they’re more reasonable, it’s unlikely they’ll take off.

I can see the potential of VR, but it’s the unique uses that are impossible without this technology that will make it sell. I don’t think I’ll be buying one in the near future, I’m happy enough with my TV.

Member
Derek A says:
24 November 2017

I have use a VR for a short time playing golf and decided it was not for me, having read the other comments,I agree with Duncan Lucas comments regarding the long term effects of using VR one wonders if the developers gave any though or did research into the possible side effects to the eyes and brain using a VR over a long period.