The growth of the internet and the reliable, exponential growth in the power of computer chips over the past few decades has forever changed the way we live, shop, learn, and consume. Social media, smartphones, and the millions of developed apps are pervasive and second nature to many of us. But what is to come for the years ahead? What technologies will fuel our future?
Many believe that virtual reality is the core technology of what will propel not only the world of technology, but our own mainstream world, forward. I know what you’re thinking…virtual reality is what some teenage gamer uses to pass the time while not doing his/her homework. Although there may be some truth in that, forecasters say virtual reality users will reach over 171 million by 2018. How is this possible? We’ve been hearing about virtual reality for some time, so what makes it so hot right now? Let’s first define what virtual reality (VR) is, why it’s important, and then we’ll talk about what the future may hold.
SO, WHAT IS VR?
Virtual reality is a computer-generated, immersive environment that can be experienced, interacted with, and manipulated by a user. It’s been around for awhile, but only recently has it evolved to a point where it is affordable and accessible to the many. Imagine being transported to another world where you can climb Mt. Everest, surf the waters of Southern California, or explore the Amazon river by canoe. You may be sitting on your sofa, but you’ll be sensing the three-dimensional chill of a treacherous mountain, the waves of the mighty Pacific, and the danger lurking in the South American jungle.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
In the ‘90s, owning a computer was nearly impossible for many households, but with the compact and cheap nature of computing power in smartphones, now over two billion people across the globe own a pocket-size smartphone more powerful than the expensive PCs of earlier decades. The technology is now the commodity. Virtual reality will become more easily accessible and readily available for the mainstream consumer. In a few years, you may experience buying a new car by driving it from your kitchen table, decide on a holiday travel package by sitting on its local beach. Even now, the Microsoft Hololens, although a more mixed reality environment, allows you to interact with holographic images in combination with the physical world. The self-contained headset is used to teach health sciences as well as surgeons embracing the Hololens as an almost X-ray vision for exploring the inside of patients during surgery. Amazing stuff.
VR affects every industry. In addition to healthcare and medicine, it’s already being used in aviation for flight training, policing, and the military; but also in education, extending the reach for learning in a virtual classroom. Of course the corporate world is also taking part. Research from analyst IDC showed that 30% of consumer-facing companies in the Forbes Global 2000 will experiment with VR as part of their marketing efforts this year. Companies like McDonalds, IKEA, Lego, and Kellogs are already exploring the potential of profiting from VR endeavors and more will follow.
A VIRTUAL FUTURE
So what does this all mean for us? There’s a very real possibility that in another decade or so, virtual reality tech will be a pervasively integrated, accepted, and normalised way of life. Although that may seem a bit frightening at the moment, don’t fear the robots taking over just yet. We are adapting and, in terms of virtual reality, that means there’s a positive future ahead for how our children interface with the technology. For those that embrace it, there will be significant opportunity for developing, imagining, creating, adapting, teaching, and building the hardware, software, and content for the VR future. The wave is coming and holds incredible promise.
This is exactly why Firetech developed its upcoming December 2017 Unity 3D course for Game Development. Although there are some differences, the Unity game engine and development platform is very similar to VR development so there are credible links for those with an interest in VR. The Firetech course focuses primarily on teaching 3D games design in Unity, but it will also provide a foray into experiencing programming logic, 3D modelling, animation techniques and lead to developing VR experiences. Check out our course today and give your kids the head start they’ll need for a future that’s virtually already here.