Hi, I'm Nick, a marketer and brand strategist currently living in Los Angeles. Glad you're here.
Bringing VR to the Masses
We look at the evolutionary chain of our communication channels and look ahead at the empty pedestal ahead of us. Behind us rests smartphones, tablets, and high speed internet. But what’s next?
We look at the evolutionary chain of our communication channels and look ahead at the empty pedestal ahead of us. Behind us rests smartphones, tablets, and high speed internet. But what’s next? What’s the next breakthrough in communication going to provide us with? If the purpose of communication is to bring human interaction closer, filling the gap of physical space, then the answer is simple–virtual reality. VR is out of the incubation chamber and growing with catalysts including PlayStation’s VR, Oculus’ Rift, and HTC’s Vive. The medium is sending us a message; VR is the future. But it hasn’t fully taken off yet, has it? There’s a reason you’re watching YouTube videos of people falling out of their chairs while wearing VR glasses. It’s because it hasn’t been fully adopted by the masses in ways millennials and Gen Z consumers have adopted smartphones and tablets.
But as strides in virtual and augmented reality continue to make gains, three factors will be necessary elements in bringing VR to the forefront of our storefronts: accessibility, on-demand interaction, and the human connection.
One thing to consider as VR and AR technology continue to develop is that the surrounding technologies are also developing. In a sense, VR is ahead of itself. Consider what the iPhone would be like if we didn’t have high speed internet? A lot of the features that make the iPhone so unique and amazing wouldn’t be available. In the same way, we see a gap in graphics and visual quality between modern CGI and VR graphics. The road ahead is long, but one feature that will surely entice users to embrace VR is that it can be used in the comfort of one’s home.
Think about the impact a medical student can have, taking a VR class while in his own home. The student can still use his hands, interact with the objects in the VR, and not have to leave the comfort of his or her own bedroom. VR technology could allow NASA engineers to see what’s wrong with the International Space Station and guide astronauts with hands on directions, while sitting at their desk in Houston. The accessibility that VR brings is unprecedented. The distinguishing elements between VR and, let’s say, video games or video streaming is the immersion, interaction, and sense of realism VR can bring to users.
To view Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel by looking at videos is one thing, but to experience and immerse oneself through an interactive Oculus Rift experience is something else entirely. The best part of this is that you don’t have to even get off of your chair to dive your senses into the experience.
"The best part of this is that you don’t have to even get off of your chair to dive your senses into the experience"
Comparing the immersive experiences between a 3D theater and VR, it’s clear that the location independence of the VR can allow users and consumers to have on-demand access of content that other relatable mediums can’t match. Much like the elements of accessibility, VR offers an interactive experience consumers can engage without having to be at a specific place at a specific time. The limitations of human interactions become narrower as VR capabilities will continue to develop.
VR functions free of any one confined geographic destination. If a group of friends decide to meet up in one of their homes but then switch their backdrop to the African Serengeti, there’s no problem. You wouldn’t even have to end the call. Compare this experience to a video conference call. The members of the meeting would only be able to communicate and engage each other in the realms of their meeting places. Sure, they could exchange photos, videos, and other forms of data. But, compare this to a panel of architects looking to get a real-time assessment of their project with a collaborating construction developer. Users would be able to switch from location to location, on demand, without ever having to take off their glasses.
The Human Connection
Like with any other technology, VR is special because it brings us closer to our friends as it allows us to interact with each other in a new frontier. Online multi-player experiences certainly have their place in the benchmarks ahead on VR’s developmental journey, but video games are only part of the larger picture. The inherent value VR provides is greater, more immersive human interaction that transcends physical boundaries. As the technology continues to evolve, VR will provide an entirely new frontier for collaborative video gaming experience. But believe it or not, video gaming will not be the driving force that pushes VR into the hands of the masses. It’s going to be far more than that.
Cinematic experiences, video games, and meet ups will allow you and your friends to gather in interactive new ways, like Facebook’s Spaces. You and your friends can share your experiences on your personal Facebook pages and continue to integrate your social mediums as companies continue to interweave technologies.