Virtual reality’s real life popularity
As many of you may or may not know, virtual reality (VR) headsets and software are the current flavors of the month (read: year).
The Oculus, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, and Samsung Gear seem to be the most popular. However, the Google Cardboard conveniently stands out in the list due to its much more inexpensive nature. Overall, though, it is safe to say customers definitely have options when it comes to VR headsets.
New VR uses
Seeing as there’s apparent consumer interest in the technology, it should come as no surprise that a wealth of technology companies are jumping on the bandwagon. The technology has its doubters, of course.
The primary argument being that it will become just another gimmick used to drive up the cost of otherwise mediocre materials, akin to 3-D.
Regardless, companies are certainly coming up with some pretty neat applications for the technology.
Case in point
Google just unveiled a slew of VR web applications on its WebVR Experiments page- one of the most interesting of the bunch being the “Speak to Go” app.
Using the pre-existing Google Earth program, “Speak to Go” allows users to explore the world using voice commands.
In case you were wondering, this is the point where you, dear reader, go: “Oooohhh” and/or “Ahhhh”.
Speak to go
Having used the desktop application, I personally felt it to be somewhat entertaining, but overall unnecessary.
It is more of a fun feature than a useful tool.
Conversely, however, I can easily imagine that the immersiveness of a VR headset creating an altogether different experience. Both the ability to explore the app without a mouse, as well as the 360 degree views could easily have customers spending large chunks of time with the services.
How it works
The name is self-explanatory when it comes to controlling the app. Just in case anyone is unsure, however:
1.) If users wish to view a specific place or address, all they need do is speak it to the app and it will bring up a fairly accurate street view of said location.
2.) If they choose, they can also speak the name of a city or country, and it will choose a spot at random in whatever location was said.
3.) Lastly, one can visit a spot at random on the map using the “I’m feeling lucky” command.
Remember that trip to Maldives you can’t afford yet?
Well, now you can visit it virtually! Of course, your virtual visit will be constituted of a 3-D panoramic made up of still images. But, you know, put on some ocean sounds and sit out in the sun for a bit and you’ll at least get a small portion of that island experience you’ve been craving.
While it would certainly be a neat experience in virtual reality, the technology has a way to go before it becomes something truly monumental.
However, it certainly does not seem to be too far in the future before one will be able to experience video feeds on a VR headset of many areas on the map. Combine that with the “I’m feeling lucky function,” and users will be able to virtually visit some pretty far out places.
VR’s next direction?
Though it is a fairly obvious step, the introduction of “Speak to Go” certainly seems to be a very strong step in the right direction for the VR industry. Traveling is something that many wish to do, but because of economic and/or personal reasons, are unable to.
As such, travel is a prime example of an industry that should, and could make use of VR technology.
Businesses wishing to make VR software need take note of this, as the success of the technology will likely be in creating experiences for customers that they may otherwise be unable to have in real life.
As evidenced by 3-D technology, kitschy gimmicks will only last so long before consumers begin to tire of them.
Virtual reality has the potential to be a truly influential medium- why not, then, create things for it that showcase that?
Then again, we could already be a part of the Matrix and be completely unaware. I mean, I guess that is a distinct possibility too. (If that were the case though, would it then be a virtual reality within a pre-existing virtual reality? Like a digital Inception? Weird.)