For many years virtual reality had remained strictly in the domain of science fiction. But, like many other technologies which we could only imagine in the past, it would appear that its time has finally arrived.
But what is virtual reality, and why has it now moved into the mainstream?
To give the definition that you’ll find in the Oxford English Dictionary it’s “the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors”.
In other words it is a way of convincingly fooling the brain into imagining we’re somewhere that we’re not.
While this might just sound like a diverting track, when one looks a little deeper into it, the full potential in a whole range of fields soon becomes apparent.
For example, in the worlds of entertainment, we’re often trying to take ourselves into a different realm, for example by watching a film or playing a video game. Imagine how much more convincing this would be if we found ourselves inside the action, not simply spectating it. So, before long, we should expect to see both game developers and Hollywood seeing just where this exciting new medium can take them.
Already online casinos are starting to explore the possibilities of creating the authentic experience of mixing with the high rollers from the comfort of your own home.
The worlds of e-commerce and marketing won’t be slow to jump on the VR bandwagon. For the former often the main hurdle that has to be overcome is that the consumer can’t visualize what they are buying, whether it’s clothes or even a new sofa. But with virtual reality, there is the possibility of slipping on a headset and seeing the products in site.
Similarly, advertisers are always trying to create connections with their customers and the immersive power of virtual reality is certain to offer huge potential in this area too.
By being able to place the viewer anywhere in the world the technology also has obvious applications for every kind of sector from travel companies who could take you to a far away beach to real estate agents who can give you a guided tour of a house that they are trying to sell.
These are just scratching the surface of the ways in which VR is set to transform business – we’ve not even touched on the more everyday features like conference calling and remote interviewing. But these, and much more are ways in which virtual reality is certain to play a part in everybody’s lives in future.