With devices like the VR Headset and the Oculus Rift Headset quietly edging their way onto the commercial tech scene, what does the near future hold for virtual reality?
‘Virtual reality’ is one of those funny terms that can’t help but sound futuristic. Like hover cars and teleporters, it has long since formed a part of the sci-fi wallpaper, ever regarded as a mere twinkle in the eye of the world’s leading electronic engineers. Where virtual reality differs from hoverboards and teleportation in this day and age however, is that it’s here right now. Here, to get you up to speed, is some of the key information you need to know about virtual reality today, as well as some thoughts on the implications of this technology for our near future:
A household name throws its hat into the ring
At last month’s GDC 2014 event, Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida revealed the prototype for the PS4’s virtual reality headset, dubbed ‘Project Morpheus’. The company revealed a product very much still in the works, and used their platform at the conference to make a call for assistance from the development community.
It appears that Sony’s VR headset could become something of a proving ground for talented independent developers over the coming years. Speaking to Playstation Magazine, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s Business Development Manager, Shahid Kamal Ahmad revealed, “I think some of the most exciting new experiences are going to come from independent developers. Yoshida-san [President of Sony Worldwide Studios] has also been very optimistic about this as well because when you have any kind of new technology or transformative technology, any kind of paradigm shift, what happens is it opens up a door for new people to get in. That for me is the great power of paradigm shifts or generational shifts.”
The array of gameplay options which could be made possible by Sony’s new headset is truly vast – we could see anything from a VR Metal Gear Solid to virtual casinos that bring a Gaming Club style experience into a more life-like form.
The social network and the newcomer
Sony are not alone at the head of the race to bring a successful VR product to market – in fact, they may well be lagging behind in second place. The Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 from Oculus VR is widely regarded as the best VR headset prototype currently in existence, and is currently being acquired by Facebook for a sum in the region of $2billion. The social network’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted:
“This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.
These are just some of the potential uses. By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.
Virtual reality was once the 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. I can’t wait to start working with the whole team at Oculus to bring this future to the world, and to unlock new worlds for all of us.”