VIRTUAL REALITY IN 2018: Where are we now and why?
Virtual Reality in 2018 is rooted in history
In 1935 Stanley Weinbaums wrote a short story called Pygmalion’s Spectacles introducing the idea of the First VR headset, a goggle-based Virtual Reality system with multi-sensory inputs. In 2018, we are seeing the vision he had 83 years ago become a reality.
2015 saw VR start taking the headlines with the release of the consumer-ready headsets and not just the developer models that had previously been available. In 2016 we saw more and more companies throwing their hat in the ring and this continued into 2017.
2017 was a big year for the platform and we saw a huge increase in uptake by the consumer market. It was no longer seen as the early adopter period and although it may seem like we are still there, the figures tell a different story. Virtual Reality in 2018 sales are increasing exponentially, and the tech companies are not slowing down. With multiple new headsets, controllers, games and experiences being released you can see that VR is here to stay.
So why do I say that Virtual Reality in 2018 is important?
Well, for several reasons. I will go into the specifics shortly, but just look at 2017 for us at ATD. We work within most industries delivering immersive projects. From consultancy to delivery we help businesses deliver local to global projects, from training to games and everything in between.
The question by the end of the year was not “should we invest in Immersive projects?”, it became, “how can we best implement immersive technology?” and here at ATD we pride ourselves on being a company that delivers experiences that meet your business needs and objectives, unlike experiences that are immersive, for the sake of having VR in your marketing plans.
There are 3 reasons why Virtual Reality in 2018 is going to be huge. It will be the year that we see it take off.
#1 The Release of new Headsets
One of the things that has held back adopters of Virtual Reality in 2018 has been cost of the hardware and the availability of ‘try before you buy’. Virtual Reality in 2018 sees 4 new headsets releasing in varying cost brackets. From cheapest to most expensive, here they are:
Releasing at sometime in Q1 of 2018, Oculus Go will offer a similar experience to platforms like GearVR at a fraction of the price. The headset, although limited to a mobile type experience, is actually a standalone headset and does not require a mobile, console or desktop PC to deliver the experiences. Predicted to be priced around the £200 mark, this will offer consumers a viable VR headset that could be purchased on a budget, cheaper than most consoles.
This headset has already started shipping in China and is receiving glowing reviews. Priced at around the £350 mark, this headset still fits within the price bracket for your average consumer. So why invest in the Vive Focus over the Oculus Go? Well, although I am assuming the visual experience will be very similar to the Oculus, the Focus offers something called 6DoF. This means that by using 2 front-facing cameras, the headset can scan the environment and allow the user to move freely. As you walk in the real world, you walk in a virtual world, like that of far more expensive desktop experiences. As a regular VR user, this is exciting. No tethering, no phone – a truly independent experience.
Oculus Santa Cruz
This headset offers the same principle as the VIVE focus. Its 2 front-facing cameras provide the user with 6DoF freedom. Little is known about the specs, prices and release date of this headset at present as Oculus are focusing all their efforts on getting the GO product released. Making an educated guess, I would place this headset in the £400-£500 price bracket and would be a release date in Q4 of this year or at least the official announcement by then.
HTC VIVE Pro
Every VR user you speak to will have their favourite headset and usually for the same reasons. The Oculus rift for the ease of set up and the Vive for overall quality of experience. The Vive’s tracking system, although far superior to competitor’s offerings, can be time-consuming to set up and get right. One thing that all VR users agree on is how irritating it can be to be tethered to the computer with cables and although you get used to it quickly, wireless would be better.
Well, HTC listened to these concerns and produced the highly anticipated VIVE PRO. Winning multiple best in show awards at the CES Las Vegas this year, the PRO offers the best of the other headsets and some new amazing features. Upgraded lenses provide a clearer experience. Higher pixel density screens offer a better looking, more immersive experience. Integrated headphones with true 360 surround for a more immersive auditory experience.
Drum roll please….
They have done away with the lighthouse tracking system, meaning no set up time at all! The front facing cameras take care of all the tracking. From what we’ve seen, they take care of it just as well as the previous method.
They have listened to the market and made a headset based on the best of tech and listened to the consumers concerns. This headset is likely to be released in Q3-Q4 of this year and carry a price tag of £800. Unfortunately, this is a desktop-only headset, so you will still need that expensive and top of the line PC to run it. Its existence, however, is a good sign for the future of VR getting us closer and closer to the end.
#2 Social is going VR
Being a little obsessed with the virtual world, I spend a lot of time researching and playing with the new platforms. I have found many VR chat platforms and have loved some and hated others. My highlight is VRchat. A very cool platform with a big user base and lots to do. It’s great! But for the consumer market this is less important, it will be very relevant in years to come but right now there is only one platform that you should be looking at.
Virtual Reality in 2018 sees the full release of Facebook VR.
When Facebook bought Oculus back in 2014, we knew they were going to be doing something interesting. Then, we started to see the first looks at their social platform for use with VR headsets. Users can build an Avatar of themselves and interact with their friends in a virtual environment. They can explore their photo library , Facebook content and even paint in VR. Connectivity is making the world smaller and smaller. Geographic location is becoming far less important. Whether its socialising with friends or attending a board meeting on the other side of the planet, VR is finding solutions to connect people in ways never possible before and Facebook has already been doing in a different way this since its launch in 2006. They know their business!
Couple this platform with the launch of Facebook’s Netflix-type platform and you can help even the most isolated people socialise with friends by watching films, tv series and chatting. This allows for a growing reach and engagement with new people.
The applications are endless and there is some merit in talking about the arbitrary nature of diversity when we talk about opportunities in VR. VR offers a platform where everyone is equal. Gender, race, sexuality and disabilities are not represented in the VR world. Whether that being socialising or just needing someone to talk to, VR can give a voice to the vulnerable and isolated in society.
#3 Ready player one
How can a film be so important for advertising and marketing?
There are 2 factors here that matter: Firstly, it is the story.
Ready Player One is the story of a dystopian future; the world over is populated and living conditions for those on the bottom are appalling. Virtual reality, although used by everyone, has become in a sense, the lifeline for the poorest and most isolated. The virtual world is developed on a platform called the Oasis. Oasis is an endless computer-generated universe where people live out their lives, attend school and work and socialise.
When one of the Oasis creators dies he leaves behind a quest style game that the person who completes will inherit his wealth and his control of the Oasis. Our hero, Wade, although from the most disenfranchised parts of society is highly intelligent, brave and skilled virtually. In the real world, he is unable to compete with the rest of society but with the equaliser of VR and in the world of the Oasis he can compete with the best of the best.
A very quick summary there of the plot. Here’s a link to the trailer:
It is one of the best books that I have read and I have gone back time and time again to relive that story. Now, obviously part of the reason this is important is the fact that it’s based in a Virtual reality world but there is more to it than that.
The film’s official sponsor is HTC and you can guarantee that sales of their headsets will rise after its release. One of the big stalling points for VR is that it’s hard to believe how amazing it is and how far the technology has come until you try it. With VR in the mainstream popular media like this, we can assume more people will get the chance to try the headsets and ultimately have their perceptions changed.
The second reason for its popularity will be the director.
Stephen Spielberg is one of the biggest names in cinema and has been responsible for some of the biggest movies of all time. He has also been involved in some of the biggest movies in terms of merchandise.
When he did Jurassic park I can remember vividly going to the Toys’R’us store to collect as many of the toys as I could. I had t-shirts, mugs and anything else I could get my hands on. Well, now he is going to be involved in the Ready Player One.
Whereas with other movies the merch has been toys and replicas of the props. This film offers the opportunity to own the tech in the movie. Although the Oasis doesn’t exist, the headsets and controllers do and any tech in the film that doesn’t is currently in production and not far away.
I could go on forever about the book and why I love it, but I must stop there. Get in touch to talk about your next project and how we can support you to deliver something that.
Part 3 will be about what’s coming next
Steve Jobs said:
“You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down.”
VR is coming, and my gut tells me that it will change the world for the better. Virtual Reality in 2018 is going to cause a massive shake up in the industry.