As a technology only now taking its first real steps into viability, we have to wonder exactly how far virtual is going to reach into our daily personal and professional lives. After all, there was a time when computers were first introduced when many understated their potential use and levels of adoption, and we saw similar developments after the introduction of the smartphone.
So, what potential does VR really hold, and what might we expect from it in the future?
The most obvious answer – and the one which has pushed it so visibly into the mainstream – is that of potential domination of the gaming market. Sony has released their own device with the PlayStation VR, as detailed by TechRadar, and other industry leaders have been similarly eager in their adoption.
While so far many of the biggest games released for these systems are simple ports of already existing properties, the long-term potential has led to an ever-expanding indie market with great promise. Once the technology becomes cheaper, and a few breakout hits gather more attention, we predict major gaming franchises taking the leap into VR proper.
Another use which we are personally excited for comes from the potential of tourism and exploration. Travel is expensive and prohibitive based on health, time constraints, and a wide variety of other factors after all. High-quality virtualizations of popular destinations could enable realistic engagement from the other side of the planet and could allow us opportunities we could never manage in real life.
Owing to the virtual environments, this could even be taken a step further into the world of the fictional. Imagine being able to explore the Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings, taking a trip through one of Lottoland’s list of richest fictional characters homes or maybe Scrooge McDuck’s pool of treasure and gold coins, or watching the Avengers fight off an alien invasion from the top of a skyscraper. All of these options and more become possible with VR technology, so it’s only a matter of time until a developer chooses an environment we care about.
Also important are the uses which VR could have in real-life applications. Through using VR, for example, it will be possible to accurately design a house from scratch and see how it actually feels to be inside it, or take a walk through an already existing property without ever having to visit in person. In terms of design, this opens up an entirely new world and could lead to developments which might never have been conceived of while using traditional paper or computing methods.
The final development, which we have already seen take shape with hilarious but promising programs like VRChat, is the potential which could be uncovered in communication. With VR it will be possible to talk with friends or family in a method far more intimate than traditional telephone calls, and that is just the start. Appear as yourself, or take the guise of your favorite fictional character, spend quality time together, and otherwise just hang out. The opportunities in bringing people together across great distances have always been a primary quality of the internet, and VR could make this better than ever before.
As for when exactly we will see these take shape in the mainstream, that is difficult to tell. What we know is that early versions of many of these technologies and applications already exist, and within ten years we wouldn’t be surprised to see many of these devices hold a place as an important tool within many modern homes.