Virtual reality is a computer-created environment that allows a user to experience an alternate reality. Just like the Hollywood blockbuster “The Matrix,” science fiction has glamorized the idea of VR in countless novels and movies. The idea of ‘plugging-in’ to a different world has always been coveted, glamorized, and marveled at by tech geeks across the globe. Today, VR technology turns imagination into reality.
By immersing yourself in a VR headset, you can tour places you only see in your wildest dreams. Virtually hike Mt. Everest, fly over oceans with a bird’s eyes view, and navigate any digital landscape that’s been designed for VR.
Most of the public shies away from VR technology because they assume it’s too expensive. Fortunately for us, that’s not the truth. There’s now a myriad of different headset hardware that renders the tech affordable—and yes, we mean affordable for everyone. You can spend a nice chunk of change on an HTC Vive, purchasing technology which literally allows you to reach out and touch digital design, or you can go as simple as the Google Cardboard, which costs under $100 and connects directly to your iPhone. Our point: the technology is now affordable, which will further push customers towards the tech and scale VR to a mass-adoption level.
How to Use VR:
Virtual reality is nowhere near its heyday and currently, we’ve only began to flirt with its usability. Today, VR’s applications continue to grow. However, the most common ways to use it is:
First, let’s touch on game theory. What draws gamers to videogames? It’s the fact that they can exist in an alternate reality, immersed in an experience they feel like they’re controlling. An experience, of course, they would never otherwise engage with if not for the game at hand. Yet their controls in these worlds are limited. The screen displays the game, speakers pump up the volume, and the gamer must learn to use a controller and make their character ‘function.’ Now imagine becoming fully immersed in the game itself and the controls are none other than the movements of your body. That technology is here and companies are competing to develop the best VR games before Virtual Reality gaming is mass-adopted.
The idea here is not to watch a movie, it’s to live it. Imagine if you were inside a film, one where you could turn your head in a 360-degree circle to lay eyes on certain characters or events. Perhaps even, you’re a character yourself, wading through this narrative. Again, this is where science fiction becomes reality, as VR technology allows us to step inside the silver screen.
One of the issues designers face is properly executing pre-build mockups. They need to create a blueprint of whatever they’re designing (a home, automobile, plane, etc.) and then communicate this idea to their client—in hopes, of course, to build exactly what’s being asked of them. With VR, designers can augment a design and digitally bring it to life, then invite their client to step into this ‘fake’ reality to show them exactly what they’re looking at. Could you imagine walking through your home before it has been built? Sitting in the front seat of a never-been-seen-before car? VR technology makes this a reality and it’s (slowly) reshaping the new generation of design.
The VR classroom might be one of the most brilliant humanitarian innovations, being that it allows teachers to connect with students in all places of the world. Think of an undeveloped country where education (and the resources for it) are scarce and scattered. Allocating teachers to these areas is not only difficult but, in most cases, not feasible (dangerous, unsustainable, etc.). By shipping undeveloped areas VR technology, students can access classrooms with teachers in other parts of the world, where they can receive an excellent education. Lastly, it optimizes education as a whole, being that a teacher need not merely explain what ancient Egypt was, they can take their students to it. VR can take a classroom anywhere the teacher wants them to go.
The world of VR technology is constantly evolving and expanding rapidly. The more the technology becomes affordable, the more people are going to adopt it. In the next five years, it may well become the standard tech for a variety of different mediums and reshape our relationship with technology.