Virtual entertainment is cresting a wave at present. As such, a multitude of commercial organisations and non-profit institutions are exploring ways to leverage the interest in this and the technological opportunities it offers. Exponential progress is being made in virtual reality applications (hardware and software), such as cheap graphical processing and a growing range of consumer-targeted headsets.
It’s the consumer or end-user who will benefit the most from the virtual reality’s potential in the fields of education, health, augmented reality, training and entertainment. Today’s digital natives expect to interact with their consumable media, so the more providers can respond to that desire, the faster the market will grow.
Immerse and engage
The key concept is engagement. The aim is to get the client, visitor or customer to interact with the experience in a way which was unfeasible until relatively recently. Museums are another good example of how this technology makes a virtual visit experiential. Rather than simply looking at two-dimensional photos or dusty objects in glass displays, you can walk through it, “touch” objects and get a real sense of how people lived during a particular era.
Take me to a place I’ve never been
Virtual reality gaming is becoming a massive industry, opening up all possibilities – from a F1 race around the circuit at Monaco to a visit to a theme park to an online casino, where you can interact not only with the other players but with the entire environment.
Realistically, most people know they’ll probably never have the chance to mill around the gaming tables in Vegas, experiencing the excitement of the spinning roulette wheel close-up. But virtual reality opens up immense opportunities for people to truly live out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Imagine sitting at your computer, yet catching the croupier’s eye as they deal you a hand. Imagine visiting a virtual theme park or going on a virtual safari. It could even be used in training events – who’s for a virtual team-building task?
Fully immersive virtual reality
The latest innovation is fully immersive virtual reality – an environment in which you are wholly involved. One striking example of the application of the technology is CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment. It takes the form of a cube-like space with images displayed by projectors.
“Soldier on omni-directional treadmill, Inside the CAVE” by Army Research Laboratory photographer (CC-PD-Mark)
The ‘experiencer’ wears a headset display and stereoscopy technology produces a 3D image. This combination of interaction and total immersion is known as telepresence and it could profoundly change our concept of entertainment and leisure activities.
A healthy escape from reality
Escaping reality often has negative connotations, but virtual reality gives this expression a positive spin. This is because it is capable of whisking people away from their humdrum daily lives, even for a short while, taking them to places or situations they might never have the opportunity to experience otherwise.
VR’s exact role isn’t entirely clear yet, but the technology is here to stay. Furthermore, as 5G networks roll out, there will be the power to transfer the data required at lightning speeds. Before too long, these developments in virtual reality technology will open up further opportunities to enjoy incredible experiences at affordable prices.