Virtual Reality – past, present or future?
Virtual Reality has been around for a long time, the concept has been around for over 70 years but the term ‘Virtual reality’ is attributed to pioneering computer scientist Jaron Lanier who introduced the world back in 1987 to the term we recognise today. So, it’s pretty old then, but it’s only recently been beginning to be accepted into the mainstream. In innovative emerging technology circles, VR is widely forgotten as a single offering, and Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR –a combination of VR and AR plus other bits and bobs) now being the focus of development. And lets not ignore the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI – which itself has been around a while – I did my dissertation on the subject over 10 years ago and the principles were well established then).
So is VR old hat? Absolutely not, and it is the significant advances in the field that makes it such an attractive proposition from a commercial perspective. The biggest single consideration during a business investment is the value proposition, how much bang will I get for my buck and how is that balanced with risk from a new technology. Well, now the VR proposition is beginning to tick the boxes for the mainstream consumer. The turn-around time, cost and versatility of VR applications make them an accessible commodity for the forward thinking business. AR, MR and AI are the future. They will play a significant role in every industry for applications requiring complex simulation and information management, data generation and predictive ‘intelligent’ asset management (which we do as well) but the opportunity for VR lies in its simplicity and versatility compared to the others. And of course its price point which means VR is not only now more accessible than ever but is, in my opinion, on the cusp of becoming mainstream in our day to day lives.
So, looking at the commercial positioning of VR, it is most definitely the present, and a mainstream part of the future to become embedded into the day to day like smartphones, email and the PC before that. My view is that it continues to be developed and embraced as a standard tool for many things; sales and marketing, design and build, simulation and training, testing and development, the list goes on and grows daily. We predict over the next twelve months, VR will begin to become embedded as the standard once the benefits are proven and the visionaries give way to the pragmatists. The shift has already begun with VR to cross the chasm from early market into the mainstream, AR has just pitched up and the other disruptive technologies will inevitably follow suite, but its VR that is the pioneer and will establish this new market for the others and now is the time to get on board and be a part of the digital revolution.