The following list of predictions is based on my knowledge of Virtual Reality and the knowledge and ideas of others. Of course it is impossible to truly know what the future of VR looks like but based on a number of facts it is possible to foresee, with reasonable accuracy, what the state of the technology will be in the coming five years at least. Many of the predictions below will presumably be actualized beyond a five year time frame but it is only a matter of time before they too become reality.
1. VR is here to stay
There is much discussion about whether or not Virtual Reality is really going to make it this time, after several failed attempts to penetrate the consumer mainstream. My prediction comes with great conviction, based on what I have read, heard and experienced first hand. I believe that VR’s time has finally come and that as of 2016, it will permanently be in the consumer market. Because of the colossal advancements in technology made just in the past three years, VR is undoubtedly the most advanced it has ever been and has garnered the interest of major companies like Facebook and HTC. There is also a huge interest on the developer side of VR, which is essential to make the technology attractive to the average consumer household. Once there are well established app stores for VR, much like there are for Android and iOS devices for example, people will have a greater incentive to purchase a VR headset. And this incentive is greater than it ever has been, especially considering the extremely low prices of hardware.
2. New platforms and genres will form
With the dawn of a new medium, comes the dawn of new platforms and genres of content. There will be new platforms to exchange user generated content, self-coded games, avatar skins and anything else that perhaps already exists on the Internet but will require a new platform to exclusively host VR related content. Similarly, new genres of media will arise, comparable to the rise of Facebook games like Farmville, a genre of game which simply did not and could not exist before Facebook was able to support it. Now there are thousands of games like these. We will most probably see a similar rise in content and media for which the platforms are yet to be made and the technology is yet to be developed.
3. The media will get scared about the pitfalls of VR
Though it is easy to get caught up in the wonderful opportunities VR will offer us, the rise of Virtual Reality will most certainly correlate with a rise in negative media coverage. Since, to many, it is a new and unexplored technology, the media will play on people’s fears (especially parents probably) and report incidents of people falling onto train tracks while wearing their mobile VR or comparable occurrences. The media’s tendency to exaggerate and take advantage of the public’s fear of the unknown will definitely affect public opinion of VR, though hopefully not to a great extent. Ideally, everyone should try some sort of advanced VR demo to get an understanding of the potential pros and cons of the technology.
4. VR porn will be a billion-dollar industry by 2017
Estimates by Forbes magazine approximated the annual revenue of the porn industry to be around $14bn. And that was back in 2001. This has probably increased to at least $25bn over the last 15 years and it is therefore inevitable for the VR adult content industry to gain a large share of this revenue. It will presumably take about one year for VR, particularly mobile VR, to become ubiquitous enough to create a large enough user base to support subscription based websites and other adult content platforms.
5. Virtual Reality reality TV
The emergence of reality TV at the turn of the millennium has proven to be hugely impactful in the development of television. Reality shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Big Brother and Teen Mom have drawn large TV audiences for over a decade now and proven that there is a steady demand for this type of content. I can envision that the immersion VR offers will be attractive for this genre of TV program specifically because it deals with interpersonal conflict and feeling involved in these conflicts will make the programs seem more real and personal to the viewer than ever before.
6. The majority of VR revenue will be from social experiences
As mentioned in my previous blog post about ways in which VR will change our society, I believe that social VR will become one of the biggest focuses of the industry. Interacting with others in VR is a truly awesome and fun experience because it allows you to do things that would not be possible in the physical world. This is also the direction Facebook intends to take with the Oculus Rift, which particularly demonstrates the faith leaders in the VR industry has in this aspect of the technology.
7. A leading social VR platform will emerge
Tied to the fact that social VR will be a primary use of VR is the fact that there will be multiple social VR platforms that will arise, much like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have emerged as the major players in social media. Many also seem to believe that these major players in VR will be new companies, rather than old giants adapting to the future.
8. Virutal Realities will become alternate realities
With consistent major improvements in the field of screen resolution, frame rate and eye tracking, I believe that in 5-10 years we may be able to reach a level of immersion that is indistinguishable from reality. At the current rate of growth in the VR industry and the annual advancement in all technologies required to create the ultimate VR experience, it is inevitable that this will happen and many recent developments support the prediction that this will be possible in the near future.
And to conclude, a statement by HYVR CEO Jon Oakes:
“In three to five years, it’s going to be a VR world. There’s still going to be the 2-D experiences, but the 3-D experiences are going to be so much more compelling. People are going to prefer them. Every time technology has improved where people can have higher resolution or a bigger screen or a faster response time, they go toward it. Once you give it to them, they’ll want, they’ll demand it, and it’ll be the new standard.”
I hope you have enjoyed my short series of blog posts which aimed to introduce you to the exciting and astounding world of Virtual Reality. If you are interested in staying up to date with the latest developments in VR, I can highly recommend the website vrfavs.com, which indexes a large amount of VR related websites and blogs.