In the present day, you can strap on a rectangular black headset and climb to the top of a snow capped mountain or traverse a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean. This is the promise of virtual reality (VR) headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Companies throughout the world have embraced this technology, especially corporate video industry in Sydney.
As impressive as virtual reality already is, many pundits still believe that the technology is still in its infancy. This may be due to the fact that previous VR-style efforts have flopped in the past e.g. Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. However, the latest crop of gadgets in this field are deemed more promising, thanks to their vastly improved head-tracking abilities, much improved graphics and more. Below, therefore, we take a look at 3 important things that you need to know about the future of VR as follows:
Anyone who has tried or seen the HTC Vive will know that some physical activity is involved. The Vive, together with its two controllers come equipped with sensors that allow players to wield an imaginary paintbrush or swing a virtual golf club. But what systems like the PlayStation VR or Hive currently lack is a sense of touch i.e. you may look like you are wielding a paintbrush but the device in your hand essentially feels like a video game controller. This will be one of the first areas where virtual reality will improve. (The Oculus Rift still does not support motion controllers, although the company plans to launch such devices later this year).
The next evolutionary phase of VR will be where people get to participate physically in the VR world and not just sitting back. For instance, if you are playing quarterback, you not only get to throw a football, but you can also interface with the team as well.
Phil Carey of Cornerstone Media believes that incorporating more sophisticated touch controls will only be the start and that future VR devices could refine concepts that were first introduced in the early 1960s with the much vaunted Sensorama which incorporated elements like smells and winds. Granted, today’s headsets perform an excellent job of catering to the visual senses and a little bit of audio as well. But those are only two senses. Once you start catering to the rest of the senses- like what we feel temperature-wise, smell-wise, and body-wise, the reality factor of VR technology becomes much stronger as the virtual pieces begin to fade.
It is not exactly clear how-and if- the technologies described above will ever take shape. But it will definitely not be for the want of trying as there are numerous companies that are committed to taking VR technology to the next level. For instance, the startup Thalmic Labs makes armbands that are capable of controlling electronic devices through the use of gestures that also work with the Rift; while Leap Motion- a startup that launched motion-sensing cameras for computers in 2013- is now developing technology that can be used to interact with VR environments without using a controller.