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
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?