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OPINION: What is the Future of Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality Content around Female Head. Credit: Amelia Rose Virtual Reality Content around Female Head. Credit: Amelia Rose

When it comes to emerging technologies, which are the ones that stand out in 2015? While there are a number to choose from, it is undoubtedly virtual reality (VR) that is capturing the imaginations of developers, brands and consumers alike. Even Mark Zuckerberg is stating that “VR is the next step for Facebook.” Not only does this have the potential to be lucrative, for example, but it can also change the lives of customers and the world around us forever.

Although the technology behind VR has been in development for more than a decade and remains one of the industries worst kept secrets, during the last 18 months we have seen an incredible rate of advancements within the market. This has triggered what can only be described as a rush to market, as brands such as Samsung, Facebook/Oculus and Google continue to compete for supremacy.

Samsung were one of the first to declare their hand, with the ‘Gear VR’ developed on the back of the Oculus Rift and even developed in partnership with the trail-blazing firm. Samsung also strived to hard to create manageable and cost-effective goals, which in turn has enabled them to develop a viable consumer product that is now available on the market for as little as $200. While it has limited capacity at present, it is compatible with the Galaxy Note 4 and will benefit from increased mobile app development over the next 18 months.

This is a central trend in the VR market, as the rush to market has caught some developer’s cold and created a vacuum in terms of VR experiences such as applications and content. This is why cheaper products are performing better in the current market, as consumers have decidedly vague expectations when it comes to VR technology and are keen to see the rate at which compatible applications are released. This may also explain why the much-vaunted partnership between Oculus VR and Facebook has yet to bear fruit, as the companies work hard in order to deliver a truly impactful product that can deliver on its promise. Time is ticking until Q1 2016, when the final production version of the Rift should hit the e-tail/retail shelves and only then we will know where VR stands.

In terms of the future, there are two key things that we should expect to see in the VR market. The first is a slight plateau in the market, as participating brands such as Samsung, Facebook, Google and Sony continue to gauge the impact that their product has on consumers. Secondary to this, we will also see a surge of compatible applications, gaming experiences and media streaming programs, as those in the technology market look to capitalise on the immense appeal and potential of virtual reality. There is also a question of which group will adopt VR first. Will enthusiasts, movie watchers, hard-core or casual gamers… who will bite first? Can eSports take charge of Virtual Reality? Whatever your preference, if you play online games on Plarium.com or casino games online, we will surely see a number of applications emerge over the next 18 months and add shape to a burgeoning market.

Although the pace and unpredictability of technological advancement makes it impossible to confidently predict the future of virtual reality, it is sure to have a huge impact on the consumer market. The year 2015 and especially 2016 will also be a key for VR, as brands compete for a dominant market share and a host of compatible applications are released to consumers.