Virtual reality, at its inception, was a far cry from what we have today. In the early 90s, Nintendo was brazen enough to release a virtual reality (VR) system, called the Virtual Boy, which could immerse the player in a vector world. At the time, it did not succeed at all but was undoubtedly an influential technological innovation. The failure of this device had, until recently, prevented many developers from creating virtual reality games or taking the platform seriously.
However, in the last five years, we have seen a boom take place in the virtual reality industry. What was once a pariah of sorts has become one of the most engaging and surprising industries in tech. In last year alone, virtual reality sold over 2 million headsets which elevated it to a new height and made it a very serious business. The most notable devices to come out for the virtual reality platform are the PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive. These systems are providing experiences to millions of users and have legitimized the virtual reality industry.
It is serious enough that developers are starting to pay attention to what VR can do in the modern era. Windows is also in the mix with their mixed reality headsets that combine the features of augmented reality with virtual reality. These headsets deepen the experience and provide more interesting ways of interacting within a virtual space. The proliferation of these devices has also caught the attention of more traditional businesses like Coca-Cola and Ikea. Both of these companies have developed virtual reality apps that give consumers the experience of riding around in a sleigh or decorating their room with the newest furniture.
It does not stop there either as businesses all over the world are beginning to see just how powerful the virtual reality system can be. Crackle, just recently, released a teaser for its new film In The Cloud with a virtual reality app that guides you around a digital representation of cloud storage. This is both innovative and exciting as marketing no longer has to be confined to just yelling at people or shoving a product into consumers faces. Now they can use the power of VR to engage potential customers and create lasting experiences.
Virtual reality entertainment takes it even further as the entertainment industry continuously innovates in the virtual reality space. We have already seen films that take advantage of virtual reality by mimicking the screen size of a movie theater inside of the user’s headset. This creates the sensation of being in a movie theater while sitting on your couch. The same goes for video games that are completely immersing the players into their virtual worlds to make them feel the sense of urgency or peace they desire.
These innovations are taking the virtual reality industry by storm and are what drives people to engage in the platform. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a dragon come out of the sky or watching a movie on the big screen in your home. However, there is a continuous push to innovate and create newer and deeper experiences with VR. Windows mixed reality, using both AR & VR, create an altogether unique experience as you move around a virtually simulated space and interact with a digital component separately. The only way to really explain it is by citing their demonstration a few years ago in which a player was playing Minecraft on a table in front of them as if it were a board game. This expands the virtual experience and showcases the innovations that are constantly taking place.
The way in which VR is beginning to reshape entertainment not only excites customers but is driving the entire industry forward at full steam. There have been very few innovations that have taken the world by storm quite like this. The immersion and sensation that virtual reality creates are enough to draw individuals from all walks of life to the platform. It is impactful enough to make developers and studios alike create experiences for virtual reality platforms exclusively. The experiences that are out there now are already enthralling but what is to come is even more exciting.
As companies figure out how to use the platform they will undoubtedly draw a larger crowd to an industry that is seeing massive gains every year. Virtual reality has the real possibility of completely overhauling entertainment as we know it as the entire industry will have to respect the power that the technology brings. Virtual reality will continue to innovate and develop so that consumers will have experiences that elevate them past banality. The real connection that VR makes with the consumer is why the platform is so successful and why, ultimately, virtual reality will take the entire entertainment industry by storm.
By Dr. Diane Schleier-Keller
(Edited by Cherese Jackson)
Dr. Schleier-Keller is a business strategist and finance columnist. She has three years of experience in M&A and has been traveling the world to help train entrepreneurs to succeed in their business. You may also connect with her on Twitter.
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