Skeptics be skeptin’
Once upon a time, you may have thought that virtual reality wasn’t ever actually going to happen. However, VR is no longer merely an intangible idea. There have been several recent developments in VR, most notably with Google’s Cardboard and Facebook’s Oculus, that have caused the immersive technology to gain traction.
Despite the growth of VR, there remains skepticism over the immersive technology. Although, no longer is skepticism relegated to doubting the inevitability of VR technology. Now, criticism is aimed at the future of VR and its role in our everyday lives.
“VR isn’t a shared experience”
Can VR be too immersive? Skeptics argue that because of its immersive nature, VR creates seemingly solitary experiences. However, there is a shared experience in VR whether that be trying the headset with friends or the inevitable online world VR will come to encompass. Recently, I tried the Google Cardboard with several friends. While we each took our turn alone, we still had the experience together. As we watched each other take their turn, we could picture in our own mind what they were seeing. Afterward, we had this cool shared experience that we were able to digest together and talk about. It built a community in some ways because we are some of the few who have experienced VR.
We have become masters at consuming solitary media together. This challenge is also being tackled by making social VR, which allows viewers to experience content simultaneously. Soon VR will have the ability to create shared social experiences, similar to those of online WoW or Twitch communities. Recently, retail has seen a new evolution via virtual reality. Customers can now browse through virtual storefronts, examining virtual versions of products and make purchases like they would in the real world.
“There’s no advertising potential”
Other criticism is aimed at VRs limited advertising potential. While television is still seen as the most premium space for advertising, immersive technology is slowly moving into the advertising realm. VR and 360 degree video has the potential for content and brands to really make an impact. Publishers have begun to use VR to deliver branded content. Both The Times and Wall Street Journal are using VR to create custom content campaigns.
“It’s too expensive”
Virtual reality is also becoming more affordable. Google’s Cardboard starts at around $20 and can work with almost any smartphone. The foldable, easy-to-use viewers are great introductions to VR. Likewise, Oculus plans to develop affordable VR headsets. The Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR will only cost you around $99, which is much less expensive than the newest iPhone.
Virtual reality is steadily finding its place in society. And it will only continue to grow as the immersive technology becomes cheaper and more main-stream. In the not-too-distant future, a VR headset could be a staple in most living rooms right alongside your TV or Xbox.