The future of VR

If your next big gadget purchase is not VR-related, you’re missing out. Here’s why…

We all love being transported to different worlds and realities - through games, movies, photos or even books. But with these there is always a barrier - a screen or a page - that prevents us from fully escaping our reality and immersing ourselves into these worlds. Virtual reality eliminates that barrier - you are removed from your physical surroundings and fully immersed into the other reality, so you can experience a game, film, event or exotic destination on a whole different level.

The great news is that virtual reality has come a long way from the clunky vision presented in vintage films like Tron or The Lawnmower Man. Today’s technology is sleek, highly accessible and far more useful.

Read on as we explore all the amazing ways you can use VR today - and no, it’s not just about gaming, although that is a great place to start…

Gaming

Virtual Reality Gaming - VR Gaming

VR is a gamer’s paradise and the technology for truly immersive gameplay has developed by leaps and bounds in recent years. Getting into VR gaming is easier than ever before with inventory of VR-ready titles increasing constantly.

Starting with Sony’s PlayStation VR, created for the PlayStation 4, anyone can now immerse themselves in VR world from their living rooms. And for more advanced needs, the HTC Vive headset, paired with grunty gaming PC, offers an unparalleled immersive experience.

Meet and work

Virtual Reality Meeting - VR Meeting

With VR, we can finally forget about clunky video conferencing! Just put on your VR headset and have proper immersive catch-ups with anyone, anywhere. Current VR meeting technology can create very realistic experiences - complete with full 3D audio, HD imagery and even facial expressions, so we no longer appear as featureless avatars in VR spaces.

Systems such as High Fidelity, available on the HTC Vive and others devices, use sensors to capture our gaze, facial expressions and body language and renders these into the VR world making for highly realistic interactions. This type of technology can also transform how we work, with people from around the world working together as a team in virtual workspaces. The cost of investing in VR gear can quite quickly be offset by paying for fewer business trips.

Virtual events

Virtual Reality Events - VR Events

Always wanted to see Lorde at Coachella or the ABs play in Buenos Aires? Avoid the sweaty fans and expensive tickets by attending virtually! As with virtual meeting technology, virtual event experiences are getting better with sound that behaves three-dimensionally making you feel as if you are actually there.

VR recordings of events and concerts are already available for most VR platforms today, but eventually you will be able to beam into live events all around the world - but without the crowds - so you’ll always get the best seats in the house.

Virtual experiences

Drag the video above to experience a full 360 degree view.

While VR may never fully replace travel, it can help enhance the experience or take you to places you would never be able to visit otherwise. Admiring the Mona Lisa in the Louvre or the Sistine Chapel ceiling are amazing - except you will always share these experiences with hundreds of other visitors at the same time. With VR, you can examine such masterpieces at your leisure, with no crowds or pushy security guards.

VR also enables you experience destinations and wonders that are either very hard to reach - such as the summit of Everest - or plain impossible - like the surface of Mars. Sure, nothing can replace actually “being there”, but removing annoying crowds, high cost, danger or the distinct lack of oxygen from the equation, makes VR is a pretty good alternative.

Relive your memories

And when you do travel, you why not capture those special moments with a 360-degree camera to relive on your VR headset? With the Samsung Gear 360, for instance, you can capture 360-degree footage of your adventures and experiences in real 4K resolution, designed for playback the through a Gear VR headset. This is certainly a step-up from the boring holiday slideshow of days past!

Virtual education

Virtual Reality Education - VR Education

VR has immense educational potential. Being able to virtually be in a time or place will give you a far better and more personal understanding of your subject matter than what pictures in dated books or scratchy, old film reels could ever convey. Just think how powerful a lesson in astronomy would be if you could fly through the solar system or the Milky Way.

From a public safety perspective, the New Zealand Fire Service has already used VR in an impactful campaign to illustrate the shocking realities of a house fire. This example demonstrates the potential of VR to help people prepare for disasters - enabling them to plan and test their escape routes. In a country where natural disasters, like floods, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, can happen at any time, this could be a life-saving use of VR.

Choosing the right VR gear

So, what are the best VR options? VR technology comes in a variety of platforms catering for a range of budgets - from headsets that turn your smartphone into a 3D VR screen, to purposely-designed headsets that use the power of your gaming console or PC to render highly immersive worlds. Needless to say, the more you invest, the better and more immersive your VR experience.

Here are some of the most-popular VR options: