Is the World Ready for Virtual Reality?

Is the World Ready for Virtual Reality?Virtual reality may finally be heading to the gaming world after decades of failed attempts and lackluster consumer adoption thanks to the Rift project by Oculus. The virtual reality headset has the backing of industry-leading names like Valve and Unity at a weight and price point that may be well within reach of many average gamers.

That said, is the world ready for virtual reality? Having just gotten used to movement-based control technologies like Kinect and the Wiimote, could a visual immersion technology like the Rift be that final piece to the technological puzzle that gamers of tomorrow will be using?

What is Holding VR Technology Back?

We’re just getting used to not having to have a controller in our hands to interact with 3D worlds. Being able to wave or move your hands to control your character is a natural and fluid method of control. Adding a device will be a hard pill to swallow for some users while others still may lack the stereoscopic vision necessary to make use of 3D technologies that require both eyes to cooperate together.

Until recently, the idea of a VR headset that didn’t weigh a ton (or cost a small fortune) would appear to be far-fetched if not for modern screens being thinner, lighter, and significantly cheaper than previous models. Pixel density is also a concern, especially when the screens are so close to the user’s eyes. All of these issues have been holding the technology back, which has its roots in the earliest days of personal computing.

What Would Make It Work?

For VR to really take off in the consumer market, a number of factors need to be taken into close consideration. First, the price of the unit would have to be within grasp of the average user. If the market isn’t large enough, the game companies won’t develop software for it and the platform itself will die. Accessibility is key, and money is a huge barrier to making a product viable for consumers.

Another big hurdle that the technology has to bound is perception. It’s difficult for any technology to get a second lease on life after so many conceived failures have come about. Do you think that Second Life would suddenly become a breakthrough success because a new viewer came out? It would take an incredible (and obvious) breakthrough to make the average person reconsider what is currently an obsolete and perceptibly failed technology. You have to convince users that the genre wasn’t ready yet, but it’s redefined and ready for action.

Think about the tablet PC from the early 2000s and how miserably the product line failed to achieve saturation in the consumer market. It took a very different approach and a lot of clever marketing to create the buzz around tablet computers that exists today. A new world of operating environments and interface methods had to be developed in the public eye to make it work, and it did.

Is VR as we know it today a tough sell? Yes. Will something like the Oculus Rift potentially revive and turn around the public’s perception of virtual reality as we know it? Quite possibly.

What do you think? Is the world ready for virtual reality, or do we need to rethink the entire platform over again?

Photo by Chris Desmond via Navy.mil

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://twitter.com/josed Jose Dizon

    I don’t know if the world is ready for VR yet. But I’m sure gamers are. The Oculus Rift creator has said that he’s been very busy meeting with several big game companies like Valve, id, CryTek, and Epic. Gabe Newell himself is in the Rift’s Kickstarter video.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1430310093 Wolfee Darkfang

    I’m sure I’m ready, as long as there are feeling sensors in a body suit to make things more lifelike. I’ve always liked the idea of feeling like i’m actually there. Of course if it was Virtual Second Life someone would script a giant boot that kicks everyone in their jewels. You know someone will do it. :)

    I would prefer holodecks though.

  • http://twitter.com/UnBalancedMinds It’s Something

    How much longer are we gonna wait for this? It’s kind of a pain in the ass to have them dangle this concept in front of us for almost thirty years and now they’re still saying “oh, should we do this?”…

    I’m aware of the danger but let’s be real, do we really need to smell and taste what’s in a game?

    I’ve been playing MMO’s for a while and with all the breakthroughs in the gaming industry, VR should be child’s play and dagumit, I wanna slay me a god-danged dragon already!

  • http://www.dodutils.fr/ Dodutils

    I remember year 1995 when I first tried a VR headset and gloves system running 3D display from an Amiga 2000.

    3D was…well… 1995’s 3D … 320*240… 256 colors… very low FPS rate… but the sensation was incredible ! I played gladiator, a flight sim and a shooter and that took me a few minutes to go back to reality.
    I will never forgot the feeling when I started the Harrier Jump Jet motors and I turned my head left end then … down, watching me elevating from the ground of aircraft-carrier.
    Nowwadays with very realistic 3D, high FPS rate and much higher glasses resolution the sensation would be amazing.

  • SaviorNT

    This is the subject of my first webcast series on YouTube. Speaking as a gamer, for gamers, i am DROOLING over VR. With that being said, my first experiment with it will be to go.. “afk” and sleep, at my desk, with it on.. and wake up, still in the game. Do this for a couple nights, then go back to the real world.. Should be an interesting experience.

    Back to the original topic, are gamers, and the world.. ready for VR? Sure.

    But this isn’t the question we should be asking, is it? The question should be, “is the world ready for the repercussions of VR?” It is my belief, that the answer to this question, is no, we’re not. And I don’t think the human race will ever be ready to put ourselves into another reality.