Virtual reality is no longer a futuristic concept – it’s already here, it’s already being used and with virtual reality hardware such as Oculus Rift it’s even more tangible than ever before.
Having said all of that, virtual reality really is still in its infancy and with everything on the market right now you could think about virtual reality as a blank internet. All the equipment is available, the infrastructure is in place and the technology is available for everyone to start using. Now it is time for the best technology companies out there to start making cool things out of this relatively new technology.
Now the most common use of virtual reality is gaming – it’s easy to see how well these two go together and if you have every played a game using the Oculus Rift you will know how much fun it is compared to traditional 2D or 3D gaming.
But what is next for virtual reality and how can it improve our lives?
To answer this question, it’s a good idea to think about how technology is changing the world in which we live. With the advent of the internet we are gradually doing more and more online – for example most of us now shop online, we do our shopping online, we chat to our friends online and things like walking down the highstreets, meeting up with friends or even reading a book seem old fashioned, out of date. This is great because it gives everybody access to these facilities – for example you can order goods from companies like Amazon no matter where you are in the world, you can do your shopping even if you are not anywhere near a supermarket and you can read any book you can ever think of.
The downside is that we just don’t go out as much anymore – we don’t visit a store to test out a product before we buy it, we don’t meet up as much with our friends and this is making our lives far duller even if it is making us more efficient.
This opens the door to one of the coolest potential uses for virtual reality and something that has been predicted repeatedly in futuristic films and TV shows. With virtual reality we can combine the physical with the virtual.
Imagine that you can merge an online shop with a traditional high street shopping environment in virtual reality – when you “visit” the online web store you step into the store using virtual reality technologies. You can browse products as you would have done in the past, speak to a shop assistant and virtually test out a realistic version of any product before you buy it.
If you were planning to buy a house you could take a virtual tour of the house to see what it looks like, what it feels to walk around, without even being there.
If you want to chat online with your friends you can all meet up in a virtual café and have a coffee together.
These things, once seeming so futuristic, are more than possible with virtual reality technologies that are available right now.
Companies such as Districts.io have already developed conceptual versions of the software that can make these virtual worlds possible as well as tie them in with physical environments such as shops, real estate and even traditional classroom teaching environments.
All that remains is for existing businesses to start building on virtual platforms such as Districts.io and not only will virtual reality really blossom but the way we live our lives will change forever.