Why It’s Finally Cool To Be Excited About Virtual Reality

We hear it a lot: “2016 is going to be the year of VR.” But building a new industry takes time — let alone the consumer habits that will come to define it. That’s why 2016 shouldn’t be referred to as the year virtual reality “explodes”; rather, the year a completely nascent industry loses its novelty and goes mainstream.

So what makes 2016 such a special year for virtual reality? From the launch of new consumer VR devices to the growing interest in building a backbone of supporting software, 2016 will be etched into the history of virtual reality for years to come. Here’s why:

For the first time, the market will react to actual products and not just ideas.

It’s becoming clear that the first breakthrough market for virtual reality will likely be immersive gaming. The strongest thrust behind virtual reality’s push into the mainstream is through the launch of three major headsets, scheduled for early this year: the HTC ViveOculus Rift, and Sony’s PlayStation VR. LG, too, is using creative distribution tactics to launch headsets with support from Google — offering the devices for free along with its flagship G3 smartphones.

With investors such as Facebook (Oculus Rift) and Apple already having shown serious interest in the emerging technology, it comes as no surprise that the sales value of virtual reality headsets is estimated to reach $1.1 billion in 2016. Having gathered so much momentum, the market for immersive gaming hardware is becoming incredibly crowded and competitive, with each company vying to set the agenda of what the future of gaming will look like.

Augmented reality is turning the Internet into a room you can walk into.

Unlike virtual reality, which drops you into a wholly digital and fabricated world, augmented reality attempts to blur the line between the virtual and the real, layering digital objects and interfaces over real world environments. Initiatives such as Microsoft’s HoloLens and Magic Leap— the latter of which has already raised half a billion dollars from investors like Google — are great examples of this. While the limits of virtual reality are still being explored through immersive gaming, augmented reality devices are opening doors to reveal new opportunities. Using the same concept of immersive experiences, augmented reality is transposing the technology’s capability to social media and marketing. Whether it’s Facebook incorporating 360 videointo its newsfeeds or Pinterest allowing users to buy items without ever leaving their feed, social media platforms are well on their way to becoming “everything platforms.”

Virtual reality brings with it the next content-creation revolution.

In 2015 we saw the rise of new forms of content built around virtual reality. Whether we look at affordable VR alternatives such as Google Cardboard or 360-degree video, the emerging technology began to rejigger the way we tell and share stories digitally. The New York Times was the largest early adopter of the technology, leveraging Google Cardboard to give readers (now, viewers) an immersive storytelling experience through NYT VR. Companies such as Vrse are also well on their way in championing the cause of VR filmmaking.

Organizations such as Save the Children and Sierra Club have teamed up with VR producers RYOT to plunge viewers into relevant stories relating to everything from the refugee crisis to climate change. Additionally, while some artists are tackling the capabilities of VR with acreative intent, others are using the technology to raise awareness using gender-bending virtual experiences.

The possibilities stretch on. Ultimately, 2016 is the year we finally say, “Yes, VR is here to stay — now what can it do?” Anyone who remembers when Apple first introduced the App Store in 2008 knows just how exciting the future of virtual reality could potentially look in supporting various apps and software. VR is coming into the mainstream with full speed this year, and it’s bringing with it the possibility of solving a host of new problems, a reality we can all (finally) be excited about.

by Magnify Team | February 15, 2016 | posted @ http://www.hkstrategies.com/why-its-finally-cool-to-be-excited-about-virtual-reality/

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