Most of us are aware of what virtual reality is – a computer-generated simulation of an environment different from the one surrounding the person. The simulated environment can be similar to reality (imitate real scenarios, use photographs, etc.) or it could be fiction (like a fantasy world). The way it works is by using a headset and sometimes additional gadgets, which serve the purposes of giving the sensations that the person experiences in the new environment (images, interaction, sound, smell, etc.). VR has been quite popular in the gaming industry, but its applications reach much further than that. In this article we are going to present to you some of the trends that drive the world of virtual reality.
Virtual reality has already changed our lives in many ways, but it will become even more prominent in changing the way we experience the world. The primary example is its use in shopping – imagine trying on clothes and viewing products while conveniently relaxing at home. A project like Buy+ by Alibaba, which is a platform where users could interact with digital versions of objects that are available in an actual shop.
Another application can be found in the field of interior design – for example a Japanese company called Freedom Architects Design uses this technology to make virtual showroom walkthroughs, giving clients much clearer visualization and a sense of how designs would look.
Virtual reality could enhance education greatly as well – students can be given virtual field trips, they can create content, and the technology can be used even for students with special needs. An example case is Jackson School in Victoria, Australia’s use of virtual reality to help children with Autism with their communication issues. Another interesting application that we were introduced to at the Hannover fair was at Oracle’s stand, where a VR headset was being used for touring the digital twin of the machines on a factory floor.
New tools, more senses and advances in foveated rendering
One expectation for the upcoming years is the emergence of more VR tools that will enhance the way people create and share content. Some of the tools that currently exist are Google’s Tilt brush and Oculus’ Medium which let you paint and sculpt your own experience and share it with others.
Right now, most of virtual reality sets use only two of our senses – vision and hearing. This is another feature that is expected to change in the following years, as a lot of developers are working on incorporating more, or all, of human senses for the purposes of a lifelike experience. The predictions feature touch sensors and provokers of smell, taste and haptic technology.
Another focus of developers is perfecting foveated rendering. Foveated rendering is a way of saving on processing resources by using eye tracking technology and defocusing objects which are located in the peripheral vision. This will not necessarily change the VR experience, but rather enhance the performance of the device.
Virtual reality in advertising
As its popularity grows, especially in movies and social media, virtual reality will inevitably fall into the hands of advertisers. This is not necessarily a bad thing for end users, as campaigns are expected to become more interactive, more enjoyable and engaging. Additionally, the adoption of VR provides a much narrower and targeted audience, making work more convenient for marketing departments when launching a campaign. Some interesting examples are Chick-fil-a‘s campaign featuring virtual reality cows, a tourism office in British Columbia which uses 360-degree videos to popularize travel destinations, and movies like Stephen King’s ‘IT’ sharing experience of horror via a 360-degree trailer.
These are a few of the upcoming trends that might become key influencers for VR. Virtual reality, Augmented reality and Mixed reality are a great step forward into a brighter future and we have high expectations of its further advancement. You can sign up for our Virtual Reality Briefing for the latest news and updates, which comes out every month and is free of charge.
We hope you’ve found this article insightful and we hope to see you at CEBIT 2018 next week – meet us at Hall 17, Stand F24!