While I was preparing to write this piece, I asked a few people I don’t often associate with about virtual reality. I asked them when the last time they heard about VR, the last time they had a conversation about VR, and the last time they interacted with VR. The answers I received back were interesting to say the least. Some of the people hadn’t heard about virtual reality in months. Some said they thought VR was dying off and didn’t bother with it. Then there were the select few who had recent and fresh interactions with VR.
There is a few points I want to touch on regarding the answer to those questions. Many people declare that the future of technology will be inside and outside of headsets. If you don’t associate yourself with people who are passionate about virtual reality, then you probably wont hear too much about it. The idea that virtual reality is dying is not very true. Like most new technical advances, it takes some time for everyone to adopt it and truly believe in it.
Mentioned earlier, if you are not around people who are passionate about VR, you won’t hear much. The reason for that is that for the most part, the virtual fanbases are purely enthusiasts. Because of the price, time, and effort needed to really get into VR, people do not take it lightly. No one is bored on a Sunday afternoon and decides to get a virtual headset. A good VR setup has a dedicated room, multiple sensors, controllers, a gaming PC, and a few thousand dollars poured into the whole experience. This isn’t taken lightly, and it shouldn’t be. It is an investment into an experience.
Like any new development into technology, the public will always be slow to adopt it, embrace it, and lastly buy it. I don’t think the sale numbers in virtual reality represent the publics interest. There is no headset on the market right now with the price that is cheap enough to not make a dent, but nice enough to have fully immersive VR gaming experience. With that being said, we are still relatively young in the development of virtual reality as a whole.
When the first computers were made, not many people were able to afford them. That doesn’t mean no one wanted them. That means that they were not a necessity, especially for the price point. That is where VR headsets are about right now. Many people are interested in them, but not many people see a use for them given the expensive and time-consuming traits of the electronic hobby. The main use for virtual reality is gaming. Heavy gaming consumers have eaten these headsets up, but outside of that, who is buying?
PSVR seems to be the most successful headset of the big ones (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation Virtual Reality). There could be many reasons for this, but lets attack the most realistic reason for this. The Vive and Rift arguably have better graphics and commuting powers, and an overall better experience. They both come in at larger price for the headset, but the PSVR requires a PlayStation 4, which makes all of the prices nearly the same. The main reason that the PSVR is going better actually has little to do with the product itself.
The PlayStation doesn’t require a connection to a high powered gaming computer, rather to just a PS4 which many people already have. The PlayStation doesn’t require a crazy amount of sensors around your room that come at extra cost like the other headsets do. The PSVR has a plethora of games available as well. It can run all of the games the Rift and Vive can, and then more. There are plenty of PlayStation exclusive games for VR and they are completely worth your time and money.
Another reason people may believe VR is either dying or falling off, is because the companies that have pulled out in recent memory. CCP Games was one of the first companies to back and support VR gaming and technologies. The company produced EVE, one of the biggest and best games early on for the Rift and the Vive. Now just a few short years later, they have shut down all virtual operations inside of the company. That is not very encouraging. IMAX had big plans for virtual reality as well that shut down just as fast as they started up. They had an idea of gaming arcades where they get the most traffic, inside of the theater. That never caught any traction. Day-Z developers also used their VR productions to produce two games that never caught on with the public. The truth is that not many large companies want to pour too much effort and money into virtual reality games. They seem to fade out quickly and most companies never get much of a return on them. The risk is too high to justify a million dollar company tossing multiple games into the gaming stores.
We have listed many problems facing virtual reality. If we believe that we are the only people that know of these problems, we are simply wrong. The people that know the most about these problems are the same people that we expect to solve these problems. The owners, developers, and producers have the virtual worlds at their finger tips. If they are able to right the ship and get VR into a relevant state, then the untapped potential will be available. There are plenty of bright spots regarding virtual headsets and most of them are gleaming into the future. Let us take a look into what the future can hold for virtual reality.
Some of the upcoming headsets from the big companies are already cutting into the problems and trying to solve them. One of the bright spots is the Oculus Quest. This headset features nearly the same type of gaming capabilities as the Vive and the Rift, but has much more upside to it. It is noticeably cheaper for what you are getting. The headset doesn’t require the customer to purchase a few extra external trackers or controllers, and have mostly everything internal. Another huge reason that the Quest has many (enthusiasts) excited is the complete wireless adventure. This headset makes gaming PCs irrelevant and useless.
Although many people have the idea that VR is simply a dying field of people that like video games too much, thats not the case. We mentioned earlier that the big companies do not want to get too involved in the gaming of the headsets. Small companies, it is time. For every large company fallout, there is a small company success story. Beat Games is a terrific example. If the company never made Beat Saber, most wouldn’t know who they are. Beat Saber has quickly turned into one of the most playable and enjoyed game on virtual reality.
With companies like this going all in on making a great product, the future still remains very bright. I don’t think there is one person willing to give up on virtual reality just yet. The market for it is still very small, but the numbers are there. Essentially 1/30 of PlayStation sales come through virtual reality. That is a number to hang your hat on. The immediate future of VR is in great shape and it is slowly but surely progressing.
It is hard to tell where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been. This old adage is something that screams truth when it comes to progression. If you look at where virtual reality was five years ago, you may laugh a little. It is no comparison to where it is now. Now on the flip side of that, virtual reality will be no where close to what is now in five years. In the year of 2024, the game will be completely changed. Not only will time give the advantage to the future, but the fact that technology is advancing so quickly in so many different ways. We will surely have much more than the headsets in 2024 that immerse us in a different world.
There have already been many virtual reality arcades that offer more than a simple headset system. Once the headsets runs out of ways to be amazingly perfect (which is not too distant in the future) the new challenge will be to find ways to the make the outside the headset experience much more real, while keeping the headset on. There are plenty of ways to make everything more real. Let us jump into those and see where VR is headed, inside and out of the headset.
Tesla has no cards inside of virtual reality as of now. If they did, it might get too real. But for now, a UK based company has invented a full body suit called the ‘Teslasuit’. This suit is designed to let the user feel anything from a gentle breeze to the impact of a bullet from a rifle hitting their chest. The company isn’t trying to kill you, they’re just giving you a great EMS (Electro Muscular Stimulation) experience. The idea is that the advanced headsets on the market, mixed with this groundbreaking suit, will give virtual reality another level of immersion.
In all realness, there is three different parts of the “suit”. The modules are the T-Belt, the T-Glove, and the jumpsuit itself called “Smart Textile”. When put all these modules together, they function perfectly together like a suit. It is an array of different sensors and movement of sensors allowing the user to feel completely versatile sensations inside of virtual reality. Just up to recently, virtual reality has been purely visual. That is where the Teslasuit comes into play. It intertwines the body with the visuals the eyes see. This makes it completely possible to see and touch the new worlds that are placed in front of you.
When using EMS and directing it to the body’s nervous system, the consumer can feel nearly everything. If you are touched or poked in a certain part of your back in virtual reality, the suit will be able to replicate that perfectly in real time. Users say it is almost impossible the difference between the fake and real touches when the suit is skin tight on them. Its not just simple touches either. It has been shown and demonstrated that the suit is able to replicate a hug nearly perfectly.
If you are still yet to be impressed by this suit, and the future of virtual reality in general, read this next part. The suit is equipped with temperature controls that allow the suit to simulate the environment of wherever you are inside of virtual reality. That makes it all the more immersive and impressive. On top of that all, the suit can track your motions with your body. So if you’re dodging bullets with your body and keeping your head still, that is completely fine. The suit will be able to detect that and feed the information to the headset.
The team and developers behind the suit say that it will be compatible with all available VR headsets on the market. That is pretty impressive with all of the new and incredibly different software inside of each individual headset. You can preorder now for a light $1,500.
With as much hype this suit has, there is an equal amount of suspicion. This leads us back to our opening question, where is virtual reality actually headed? This suit has many backing it. But for what reason? Let’s dive into this.
There is a silent fear amongst many people about these headsets and suits giving people experiences that they didn’t actually earn. There are plenty of schools of thought when it comes to this. Let us take hiking as an example. Using this suit and electromagnetic flooring, it is possible for someone to claim that they “climbed Mount Everest”. Now that may be correct in the sense that they saw the top and experienced the cold winds, but that is simply not the same. If someone that put the training, effort, time, and dedication into actually climbing Everest heard this, they would obviously be upset. Person 1 never earned that experience. They bought it.
This can go for so many different things. This will make the need to experience real things nearly non existent. These suits will eventually be able to replace anything real. That is not a problem when looking for a fun way to escape your everyday stresses and play a game, but is a problem when it replaces necessary experiences that are imperative to life that is defined by the experiences that we have.
We are still at least a few years away form this being a problem. I anticipate that virtual reality will finally find the happy medium between price and product long before we see that it is becoming a real problem for the public.
Problem is a loose term when it comes to this situation. Some people may view this daunting future as something that they’re looking forward too. Some people notice that this future isn’t necessarily great for the health of humans. It depends on how you look at it, but either way there is plenty of upside and downside to these suits and the basic immersive future of virtual reality.
Some of the positives can also be viewed as negatives. Essentially, people will be able to buy experiences through apps inside of headsets. For the few that are physically incapable of doing certain things, this will be a staple in life going forward. On the flip side, there is a big handful of people that are too lazy or simply not willing to put the aforementioned dedication, time, effort, and training into completing a task. The dilemma and the solutions are all in the same tool, it just is up to each individual to assure they don’t let this future take over real world experiences.
Another problem that could be seen is the social aspect of life inside and outside of virtual reality. Inside of virtual reality, you are able to and will continue to be able to sculpt and shape your body however you desire. You can acquire personality traits that don’t necessarily follow yours in the real world. There is a lot of faking done in virtual reality social chat rooms. It may seem that there is only positives to that, but I disagree. This can and will lead to people not being focused and painting their natural bodies. It will lead to people not being able to communicate with people in real time. It will lead to people not wanting to put the effort into taking care of themselves. This isn to say that the Teslasuit will be the cause of this. Any and and all immersive VR aids will be playing a part. Yes, there is plenty of upside to the the immersive possibilities, but the negatives could take on a life of its own.
There is plenty of good that virtual reality will produce for this world. There is still a great amount of potential that these headsets hold. We don’t know what we don’t know. The headset will continue to amaze us and will be a vital part of the future in gaming, all kinds of training, and even some health benefits. Like any piece of technology, this can either be a stepping stone, or something that hurts humans in the long run. As much responsibility that is in the developers hands, nearly the same amount is in the hands of consumers.