Virtual Reality in 2018: 13 Things To Look Forward To

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As we’re gradually moving towards the very few remaining days of 2017, looking back at all the great things that have been achieved this year, we can’t help but feel excited for the year ahead.

We’ve seen virtual reality come so far already, at the same time it is only the beginning. There’s so much more than can, and will be done – virtual reality in 2018 will only keep getting better and better, achieving new heights and re-inventing the concept of “virtual immersion”.

There are so many plans in the pipeline when it comes to both technology itself as well as devices, and the different areas wherein it will be applied and implemented.

Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming virtual reality trends in 2018:

1. Going Well Beyond Sound and Vision

Up until this moment, the emphasis has always placed towards these two senses – vision and sound. However, serious progress is being made in involving our other senses in the immersive virtual reality.

At the 2017 Tokyo Game Show we saw the VAQSO VR – a scent enabling device with the size of a Snickers bar. It’s claimed to be the “world’s smallest virtual reality scent device” and it can be attached to any VR Headset, regardless of its kind.

It was rolled out in the form of a demo, and it was paired with VR applications across a range of industries such as travel, gaming, fashion, and more.

And so, this is just one example of the total sensory immersion which is to follow in 2018. We expect to see massive improvements in this regard – a great attribution to the overall real-time feel brought to users by the VR technology.

2. Even More Advanced VR Tools

Specialists predict an influx of tools which would enable people to create as well as to publish VR content without putting that much of an effort. We can anticipate a lot more interesting stuff such as MindShow to start popping on the market, allowing regular users to create their own, thrilling and character-driven movies in VR.

Now, it’s important to note that instances such as MindShow are unlikely to require you to upload the full 360 video but rather a traditional 2D rendering on YouTube, hence creating a rather expensive 2D video which would meet the necessary delivery standard.

Those videos are likely to be better than the native experience that VR brings. The reason for this is simple – telling stories in a medium which is spatial is actually a work in progress at the very best and it doesn’t really require an actual install.

However, VR tools are going to empower supercharged sandboxes as well as different workflows to bring a lot more to the table for storytelling mediums such as YouTube and Instagram, for instance.

The best thing is that you are unlikely to need a dedicated enterprise studio team to pump up quality content through native VR experience.

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3. Foveated Rendering is Becoming a Game Changer

This is definitely a bit techy. However, foveated rendering is a rendering technique which is yet to be perfected. Basically, it takes advantage of an eye tracker which is conveniently integrated with a VR headset.

The idea behind it is to reduce the rendering workload by decreasing the quality of the images which are in the spectrum of your peripheral vision. In other words, VR headsets are likely to bring the same experience to your normal vision, placing the focus on what’s being gazed by your fovea and defocusing what’s outside of that area.

This is supposed to substantially lower the barrier to entry when it comes to running into truly high-end native VR experience.

The biggest difference this would make, however, lies within the incremental improvement of the performance on any mobile VR hardware. This is likely to bring a substantial increase in the high-quality VR gear.

Beyond the sheer performance, however, you can also expect UI which is gaze-driven. In turn, this would enable content creators to receive a lot more contextual data on the way you navigate and the way you respond to the virtual world. This would enable them to adjust and perfect the technology accordingly, catering to every requirement.

4. V-Commerce

It’s no secret that both VR and AR have a substantial potential of disrupting the entire e-commerce field. V-Commerce does sound like a name that would be used to describe it. Consumers will be able to test out clothes, gear as well as a range of different products before they place their purchase.

What is more, when the technology is developed enough through the implementation of different sensory devices, we could potentially be able to test out smells and flavours as well.

VR is undoubtedly a part of the future of retail. A lot more 3D experiences would be employed to engage customers and retain their attention.

It’s not that challenging to see that the future of e-commerce hides behind VR and, if we take a look at the current Asian commercial market, we can see that it’s already happening.

In November 2016, Alibaba – a Chinese e-commerce behemoth who needs no further introduction, introduced VR shopping to its customers across China. Get this, though – the company went on to reveal that this rather innovative, at the time, shopping experience managed to attract more than 30,000 shoppers in no more than a couple of days. One week later, this amount escalated to approximately 8 million users.

Given the opportunities that VR and AR, for that matter, could provide in the e-commerce space, it’s clear that many companies will follow in the footsteps of Alibaba. We will see major retailers, as well as medium-sized businesses, implement VR as part of their existing service portfolio in an attempt to attract new clients.

5. Advertising Integration through VR

Advertising taps its way throughout everything with exposure and VR is undoubtedly not going to be an exception. What is more, it could easily be the most effective way to reach out to your perfect customer and plant your brand in their mind.

VR advertising could easily take advantage of the social profile of the user and display relevant advertisements through a simulated or augmented reality. This is likely to have a huge impact on the overall customer journey.

What is more, since VR is so broad and it could be applied to almost any industry, the possibilities for advertising are virtually unlimited.

6. VR Employment Opportunities

That’s something we can already see but the trend is sure to expand as the field itself reaches massive economic growths.

2018 and the years to follow will surely see a tremendous rise in the overall demand for hiring experts in the VR development field. More content will be released in the years to come and we’ll see an uptick in the roles which are related to them. This is going to affect a range of different industries such as marketing, advertising, design and of course the development of the VR-related gear and sensors.

7.Virtual Social Networks

VR will have a significant impact on how we interact with other people. The magic of VR is a feeling of presence — VR technology allows us to be with anyone, even when they are miles away from us. That’s why Facebook is putting a lot of effort into building VR social experiences. The company believes that VR has an opportunity to become a platform that puts people first.

During Oculus Connect 3, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed off Facebook’s latest social VR prototype. The social VR makes you feel like you’re hanging out in the same physical space as your friends. Your friends are represented as avatars with realistic body language and emotional responses. These realistic avatars help people connect with each other in a way that’s closer to interacting with friends in person.

The Facebook team’s goal is to make anything you can do with Facebook available in VR in some fashion. This platform has an opportunity to become the most natural social platform ever built, with users at the centre.

8. Virtual Reality in Education

Education will become a major VR growth driver. Immersive experiences delivered by the platform have an opportunity to keep students interested in a subject they’re studying.

Among many education platforms available on the market today, Google Expeditions is getting a lot of attention recently with their growing library of field trips. Google Expeditions allows students to get in the centre of 360-degree photos and 3D scenes with historical importance. To use the app you only need Google Cardboard or a Daydream headset and an Android phone.

It’s clear that VR technology will be used to educate and train individuals in the medicine, military, law enforcement, and research fields. One good example is Mendel Grammar School, which is teaching students about the anatomy of the eye in biology classes with the Oculus Rift.

9. New tracking technologies: VR from the inside out

In upcoming years, we’ll see significant progress in tracking technologies.

Today’s most popular high-end headsets (such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive) are built on what’s known as outside-in tracking technology — sensors on the outside of the device track the headset and allow the system to align a person’s head and hands in the virtual space.

This technology has significant natural limitations, and it’s only possible to provide an accurate VR experience in a strictly defined space controlled by sensors. When a user steps outside that space, the VR is no longer functioning.

Inside-out VR technology will likely be the next level of VR platforms. A new generation of headsets will have sensors in the headset itself that will allow it to scan the environment around it, placing the user in a virtual environment.

With inside-out, the space in which users can do VR is infinite. VR with inside-out capabilities has the chance to become an ultimate entertainment and content-consuming medium.

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10. WebVR: The creation of cross-platform and low-friction experiences

One of the barriers to broader VR adoption is content. Content is critical to the success of any new ecosystem, and VR is no exception.

Many companies, including Google, believe that WebVR might be the solution for their content problem. WebVR decreases the barrier to entry and extends the reach of content:

 

1. WebVR enables web developers to build cross-platform, cross-device VR experiences

Developers can create WebVR apps the same way as they build web services, with JavaScript, and it all works in a browser.

2. Sharing VR products is as easy as sharing stuff on the web.

When users surf the web and come across a WebVR experience, they just tap the link, and they’re instantly in VR. No installation is required and a lot of devices are supported right from the start.

11. Location-based entertainment.

Location-based entertainment has an opportunity to become a widespread VR experience in the coming year.

This type of experience combines VR headsets with real, physical locations, essentially creating a mixed reality experience where users walk through a real, physical stage with the virtual world mapped on top of it.

The business model for such an experience is straightforward — a visitor only purchases an entrance ticket, and there’s no need to convince people to buy a headset. Experiences can be fairly short, compared to a home VR movie or game.

This type of entertainment is particularly attractive to film companies, like Disney, which controls popular franchises. This year, virtual reality company, The Void, partnered with Disney and ILMxLAB to create a ‘hyper-reality’ experience based on Star Wars.

But whether audiences find the experience attractive on a massive scale won’t be clear until the new locations open this holiday season (right in time for the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi).

 

12. VR/AR MUSEUMS

Recent reports from the National Endowment for the Arts recorded an 8% drop in US adults who visited art museums in the past 2 decades. What’s more is that millennials are on a sharp decline when it comes to museum-going outings.

What happens when there is too much competition for leisure? How can educational foundations such as museums keep up?

It’s time for 20,000-year-old artefacts to catch up to 21st-century tech.

Imagine walking into The Louvre, holding up your phone to snap a photo of the Mona Lisa, and through your screen, she is waving back at you with the latest Ray-bans on.

Too much? Maybe. But museums must find new ways to engage and excite visitors.

Intel recently teamed up with The Smithsonian to recreate one wing of the museum at room scale VR (meaning you can walk around as if you were there).

What’s more is that you can have additional experiences within each painting or exhibit.

Looking at a photo of the Aurora Borealis? Now you can jump into the picture and view a 360-degree video of the aurora in Iceland.

Love Salvador Dali? Take a trippy trip through his artwork and experience surrealism first hand.

Of course, these concepts can work in Augmented Reality, as well. See that giant Mammoth skeleton in the Grand Hall? Hold up that tablet of yours and watch as it animates into a living creature surrounded by its natural habitat.

Catherine Devine, the chief digital officer at the American Museum of Natural History, explains how she feels that digital is not something that ‘sits to the side’. Rather;

“It has to be really integrated into the physical experience. It has to augment it and add a layer that you don’t have with the physical space.”

 

13. Extra Effects for VR Headsets

While some developers are working on more powerful headsets and improving the graphics and gameplay of existing software, still others are creating brand new equipment that’s designed to make virtual reality more immersive.

Most headsets focus on audiovisual experiences, but that engages just two of the five senses that we have available to us. Imagine if you could feel the wind and smell cut grass, or if you could hold a physical object that changed shape depending on what you’re carrying in-game.

These technologies may seem futuristic, but there are plenty of startups that are vying for space in this emerging industry and even companies that specialise in creating hybrid virtual reality theme parks.

Marketers can use the virtual reality technology to bring branded experiences to life at events, and it’s also likely to have an impact on the trends that we see in the games that are released.

 

 

 

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