I Want Virtual Reality To Go Mainstream
“Virtual Reality was once a dream of science fiction. But the Internet was also once a dream and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together.” - Mark Zuckerberg
Photo Credit : GrowpoVR,
My personal journey with virtual reality (VR) began a little closer to reality. It happened when I dropped by Delhi comic con last year. Comic con is short for comic convention and features the finest movies, games and companies of pop culture.
After spending almost an hour at the event, I came across this guy standing outside a kiosk, inviting people to experience the trailer of Batman Vs. Superman in a brown rectangular box. The box was made of cardboard, which had a magnetic button on one side, two circular lenses in the middle and an elastic band across both the ends of the box.
The kiosk guy placed his smartphone at optimal distances away from the lenses. I peeped through the lenses and pull down the magnetic lever that worked as a click on the trailer stored in the smartphone. Within seconds, I could see the elephantine screen just like a cinema screen in front of me. I was completely astonished by the experience. Don’t want to rush it but I think I’m in love with Virtual Reality.
Here’s how I think VR can bloom into a mainstream market choice. It has to do with pricing, quality, hardware and most of all the media.
Better pricing and quality
Right now the options are either expensive, high quality VR viewing devices or affordably priced, poor quality VR viewing devices.
The Indian market is flooded with affordable mobile VR Headsets. The problem with these devices is that they don’t deliver a high-quality immersive experience. On the other hand, there are high-end devices like PlayStation VR and HTC’s Vive which works with VR capable computers or laptops, but their exuberant pricing makes it an unreasonable purchase. What Google is doing is really commendable. One can easily buy a DIY (do it yourself) version of Google Cardboard for less than five hundred rupees.
They are not only creating a VR ecosystem but also making hardware affordable without compromising on quality.
A couple of … no! One killer VR app
The proliferation of smartphone and apps have made our lives easier and more connected. If we could have just one incredible VR app built, then consumers will learn to love it. It’s the one crucial missing piece of a puzzle required to make VR a hit technology.
VR apps currently available on app stores provide a meagre level of VR, but they lack a utilitarian point. If we can develop an app which allows you to shop or interact with the product then we can see it resonate with consumer needs rather than just offer a wow experience. For example, an app which replicates a retail outlet and allows consumers to shop just like they do offline can captivate the attention of a mass audience.
Media can help popularise VR
Media plays a huge role in educating the masses about social, politics and economics trends. They can be the biggest drivers of bringing virtual reality to the masses.
Media houses can simply learn from what The New York Times did to attract the Gen Z community. They partnered with a VR company named Within, to create a film named Displaced. This VR story puts viewers in refugee camps and desolate villages, where they can witness first hand the lives of displaced refugees.
New York Times went the extra mile to make the movie a 3D experience and distributed a million VR cardboard boxes. Similarly, wouldn’t it be great if we could immerse ourselves in the news, rather than just read it online or offline?
Mixed reality vs just virtual reality
Games like Pokemon Go enjoyed mainstream success because it integrated virtual reality with the real world. Right now virtual reality offers only a route to escape reality. In the real world people are able to view, interact and muti-task with objects around them whenever or wherever they want to, but with VR, it is difficult to perform multiple activities as the user is completely circumscribed to an artificial environment. There is certainly a need for mixed reality devices to provide a new and engaging environment.
VR will gain popularity once it integrates elements from real life to offer a mixed reality experience. It will allow you to play different roles, for example, when I viewed the app 'Titan of Space' in VR, I became an astronomer and circled around our solar system. It reminded me of Shakespeare's, As You Like It: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts."
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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