The Expectations of VR and AR

The idea of VR has grown throughout the years with plenty of technological advances, but 2016 has been the best year yet. The main advances to expect from 2016 include high-powered headsets, a new breed of games, better camera options, and beyond the living room experiences.

Many companies such as Sony, Rift, and Facebook are attempting to produce and sell their own 3D VR headsets. The gadgets expected to go on sale in 2016 include the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, the PlayStation VR headset and the augmented-reality Microsoft HoloLens, which allows the wearer to view images on top of their real-life field of vision.These headsets do not have a price tag but the Consumer Electronics Association forecasts sales of 1.2 million in 2016. These headsets provide great clarity and show gamers the whole picture when they are playing or in other words, it provides them great potential to create a real-time virtual atmosphere. Experts expect that there will be 38 million virtual reality headsets in use worldwide by 2020.

This new breed of games allows gamers to become suffused in 360 degrees of shimmering and must physically lean to peer around the blocks and align them in 3D space. Video games are taken to the next level, literally, because of these new advances. Gamers can pretend as if they are in the space world of the game and live throughout it. The only downfall to all these games is that the customer may have to upgrade their computers or video game because some electronics will not work with all devices.

Virtual reality is not all about computer-generated graphics. Virtual reality with newly developed cameras will mainly focus on live action content. There are not too many options in virtual reality for filmmakers right now; however, some companies are producing cameras that they hope will help. Nokia expects to start selling Ozo within the first quarter. It is a nine-pound, mostly spherical video camera with a long protuberance on its back. Ozo retails for a whopping $60,000. The company Lytro says it’s also building a professional-grade spherical camera, called Immerge. Like Ozo, Immerge will be about the size of a beach ball and cost “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” At Google’s I/O developer conference in June, the company announced a new kind of camera for taking live-action 3-D virtual-reality videos. Google’s Jump includes 16 cameras in a circular array, making it possible to capture each point from three perspectives; software can then convert the footage into 3D. Google released the Jump design for free, and GoPro started selling a fully assembled version of the device late this year. These device and the future devices will be the greatest advancement once comparing it to live photos for the iPhone.

The beyond the living room experience is something can excite and scare most users very easily. There is no exchanging offer that can beat actually experiencing the a destination rather than using VR devices to experience this new place. VR might be able to transport a person to Venice, Italy, but part of traveling is experiencing the culture and food of that place. The consumer loses that aspect of traveling and experiencing conceptually in virtual reality.

Another advancement in virtual reality is the creation of CAVE reality, a virtual environment in which the person is fully immersed within it. CAVE stands for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment and takes the form of a cube-like space in which images are displayed by a series of projectors. A typical CAVE set up includes projection walls, projection floor ceilings, speakers, tracking sensors in the walls, sound/music, and video. The user typically wears a headset, which displays a three dimensional image via a process known as stereoscopy. These images are generated by powerful computers and a motion capture system which records the person’s actions inside the CAVE. These actions are then converted into a series of images which are then displayed to the person via their headset. CAVE’s main feature is interaction. With the combination of interaction and total immersion, a person can literally lose themselves within the virtual environment. Users can use a joystick, wand or a haptics device, which enables the person to interact with objects, for example, pulling, twisting or gripping by means of touch. The ability to do this is known as haptics.

These technological advancements that virtual reality has experienced only in the last few years is astounding, however, to be the bearer of bad news, many of the high end hardware kits and devices that we are talking about are extremely expensive. Even the most basic virtual reality headsets could make a dent in your bank account. The good thing about the future is that as computed parts get smaller and smaller and as more companies enter the market of producing parts to make these VR headsets and computer systems, then VR equipment will become less expensive. It may even become something that families in the lower middle class can enjoy with one another. The costs of VR will always be a factor in the amount of people that are using it, and therefore relate directly to the adoption of VR into our culture.

Something interesting about the future of VR that is less about the technology side and more about research into the effects of this technology on human beings, is medical treatment. VR has been talked about in the context of recreating situations for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. A treatment called “virtual reality exposure therapy” has been shown to help people suffering from this mental ailment. But the possibilities don’t stop there; virtual reality can also help people with paranoia or fears of things like heights. In a study from Stanford virtual reality was used to create social situations that the participants feared, the result was that the participants were then more comfortable in social situations and interacting with other people. The researchers don’t know how long the effects of these therapeutic sessions last, but it seems that they can prevent people from leading a solitary life as “their condition (worsens) as it and sometimes leads to more serious problems like schizophrenia”. The good news is that these treatments may not be too far off into the future, with prices of VR equipment continually dropping, and the software continuing to improve, VR may be a vital piece of equipment in doctors’ offices across the world as its untold potential in the healthcare industry is discovered.

While VR is continuously growing, there are quite a few who expect AR to one day become bigger. Niantic (Pokemon Go creator) CEO John Hanke said that AR  “is the direction that I think is far more interesting and promising — for technology and, really, for humanity,” Apple CEO Tim Cook predicts that “Augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far.” In speaking of Meta’s new augmented reality device, founder and CEO Meron Gribetz asks us to “imagine how we can create this new reality in a way that extends the human experience instead of game-ifying our reality or cluttering it with digital information.” He concludes his speech by saying, “the future of computers is not locked inside of these screens; it’s right here inside of us.” This kind of technology opens a window of escape from the fears we have about VRs. Rather than becoming detached from our natural state of being and getting absorbed in fantastical lives, we may instead be able to use technologies (such as AR) that actually strengthen our human characteristics and creative abilities. There are, however, many glitchy issues with AR devices at the moment – even devices made by companies as cutting edge as Google – which is just one of the reasons why VR is bigger right now. But that won’t last for very long.

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