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Is Virtual Reality Really The Future?

If you work in tech industry or are some kind of a developer, you’ve probably been told about the importance of Virtual Reality in the world. According to many statistics, virtual reality will become one of the most important markets in business. But is it really the future or just an overhyped technology that will fade away?

What is Virtual Reality?

By a definition, virtual reality means that a person is able to step into a computer generated reality and utilize most of his senses. The virtual reality market is separated into two categories:

Augmented reality device market – Augmented reality focuses more on 3D technology that doesn’t require a head-mounted display.

Immersive virtual reality device market – Virtual reality, on the other hand, allowes a user to step into a completely different world using headset-like technology.

How Popular is Virtual Reality in the Industry?

You’ve probably heard of Oculus and Blippar – they are the two most popular virtual reality companies. Blippar confirmed a $45 million funding ground and Oculus hit its Kickstarter goal in just 24 hours and was then bought for $400 million by Facebook – in cash, without even releasing a product. AR: Magic Leap, completed a $542 million investment round . and we’re sure they’re on to something here.

VR headsets are being developed by Sony/Playstation, Oculus, Microsoft/Hololens and Samsung. But the biggest player in the headset game is Valve/HTC Vive, which created its Steam digital delivery service – it’s used by 100 million PC gamers.

Virtual reality is also extremely popular with startups – 336 startups fall under augmented reality category and 183 companies are creating virtual reality-related products.

Virtual Reality Statistics

Although we can’t be 100% sure whether the virtual reality really is the future, there are several statistics that prove this theory.

  • By 2018, the augmented virtual reality device market will reach $659.98 million.
  • By 2020, the AR could potentially reach $150bn in revenue and VR could hit $30 billion.
  • 2018 will see a sale of 24 million VR and AR devices.
  • Augmented reality smart glasses are going to be worth $1.2 billion in 2017.
  • $4.7 billion could be generated just by VR software by 2018.
  • HMDs, also known as virtual head mounted displays, will be the next big thing – they could potentially grow from 200,000 sales to 39 million sales in just 5 years.
  • If you’re looking for a virtual reality headset, try Amazon – it’s currently stocked with 188!

Where is Virtual Reality Used?

Virtual reality is not only used in gaming – over the past few years, VR has been tested in many industries and you’d be surprised just how many can take advantage of its advanced technology. Education, healthcare, media and even fashion are taking advantage of virtual reality. Here are the three most impressive industries where virtual reality is currently being used:

Virtual Reality in the Military

The army, navy and air force uses virtual reality and are testing how to improve with this technology.

Military primarily uses virtual reality as a combat simulation for training soldiers without putting them at risk. The method has proven to be less costly than going through the traditional military training most soldiers know. Apart from combat and flight simulation, soldiers also get trained in battlefield related medical training, vehicle stimulation and even boot camp.

But virtual reality is also used to treat PTSD, which is a mental illness many soldiers face after being in the military. Virtual reality technology is decreasing their symptoms by exposing them to the triggers which they gradually adjust to. Bravemind, virtual reality exposure therapy can be found at over 60 sites and it’s provided free of charge for clinical use.

Health care

Many countries are embracing virtual reality and testing out its involvement in health care. Along with treating PTSD and rehabilitation with virtual reality, many institutions started using VR for diagnosis and treatment. Simulations created by Surgical Theater And Conquer Mobile allow surgeons to use images from CAT scans and ultrasounds and construct impressive 3D models of a patient’s anatomy. But one of the most advanced ways of using virtual reality in healthcare is creating models that help determine the safest and efficient ways to locate tumors.

Virtual reality is also stepping up the game in motor and cognitive physical therapy functions where exercises are made to feel like games and used on patients who struggle to do day-to-day activities.

Education

Although many school systems still stick to the traditional teaching methods, many jumped on board in the wake of modern technology such as iPads and various learning platforms. But education doesn’t just happen in the school institution – Toyota is using Oculus headsets to educate teenagers and parents about distracted driving – the campaign is called TeenDrive365 campaign.

Virtual reality is also used to educate students on world’s culture and produces faster cognitive learning. TechCrunch highlighted that education is slowly embracing VR, which is encouraged by many developers. They also stated that “it will soon be possible for a third-grade class in the U.S. to participate in a virtual trip with a third-grade class in India or Mexico.” Is this a solution to bring education even to countries currently poor educational resources?

Gaming

While it may not be beneficial for humanity, gaming is the industry that’s really embracing virtual reality and using it in every possible aspect.

While the issue of motion sickness still needs to be resolved, game developers are continuously working on creating new and exciting games on the market. From paranormal activities to car driving – there’s no limit to the possible virtual reality games we could be playing in the next few years.

The leading VR game providers in the industry are currently Insomniac Games, Ubisoft, Resolution Games, Epic Games, and Sony. There are over 100 game app developers registered, and the game industry is expected to extensively grow from 2017 onwards.

Virtual Reality Companies To Keep An Eye on

Statistics show that there are over 100 startups currently registered under AR or VR. New companies are born almost every minute and it’s no wonder – the virtual reality industry predictions are absolutely insane.

8i

8i was founded in 2014 and already funded $14.5 for its product – volumetric VR which uses multiple cameras to create an impressive augmented reality. Think of it as a Virtual Reality Club Penguin (and we hope there will be a way to minimize adult entertainment.

Emergent VR

Emergent VR was founded in 2015 and raised  $2.2 million in funding. Their product is a promising one – they are creating new ways to share moments and memories with virtual reality.

Occipital

Occipital has been around since 2008 and got a funding of $20 million. The investors are impressed with their advanced 3D capture camera that enables virtual reality by uploading the video into a software program. It’s all about recording 3D and upgrading it to virtual reality, which could be a fantastic advantage in the entertainment industry.

Skully

Skully, founded in 2013, is developing motorcycle helpmets with a semi-transparent display offering a 180 degree view of rider’s blind spots. The helmet also includes many other features that would make a motorcycle driver more aware when on the road.

Jaunt

The winner of virtual reality companies to keep an eye on, Jaunt, took over $100 million and got an investment from Walt Disney. You can guess this one is all about a premium cinematic virtual reality experience. The product uses immersive content that allow the customer to freely explore various places, whether they’re historic or current.

Negative Consequences of Virtual reality

Virtual Reality Society noted that virtual reality could potentially bring a few ethical issues once it’s made accessible. The article discusses the desensitisation of virtual reality consumers and notes that there is a chance of high negative emotions when it comes to military exercises or even virtual reality gaming. While this has already been an issue with mental illness and the gaming industry, desensitisation in virtual reality means that the players could actively seek out the type of scenario in real life for the adrenaline rush. There are also many questions regarding obsessions and spending too much time in the virtual reality world.

IEEE Spectrum also outlined some issues when it comes to cyber addiction. Will our brain be able to adjust to the sudden exposure with virtual reality and still function in the real world? A human’s mind has been shaped by the acts of hundreds of generations – with new technology in place and used by thousands, is there a chance virtual reality will produce more negative than positive results? Virtual world has been craved way before technology – people who tend to use drugs and alcohol as an escape are a subject of discussion when it comes to virtual reality addiction.

VR Tech news further highlighted the potential dangers of the technology when it comes to sex addiction and gambling. The scientific evidence and tests are yet to be made, but concerns remain. Virtual reality is worth $97 billion in the porn industry but the concern of the constant need for feeling reinforced and aroused remains.

We have yet to see plans on how companies will tackle the ethical issues around virtual reality, although at this stage, it might be too soon to tell.

Other Virtual Reality Controversies

In August 2016, StatNews posted a highly controversial article stating that scientists are using virtual reality to diagnose pedophilia. Two groups of men, those convicted of child sex crimes and those without a criminal record, are tested using VR animations and audio recordings. According to the scientists, 54 of 60 participants showed signs of pedophilia with VR. Many are concerned with the thought of showing virtual children to pedophiles and the actual legitimacy of testing, which doesn’t work in one quarter of men.

Many ethical concerns, of course, remain. A computer science high school teacher used VR to introduce 9/11 to his students by using a VR stimulator of what happened during the day – many students were emotionally involved with the incident and felt horrible after realizing what the situation must’ve been like for people who have died that day. Using VR in education is turning to be very controversial with scientists as well as parents. While introducing children to a new reality might seem fun, there is a questionable act of ethic violations – will the child suffer mental consequences because of virtual reality?

Virtual reality and psychological issues we’ve mentioned earlier are also an ongoing concern. Exposing an individual to a wide range of complex emotions they aren’t prepared for might lead to some unexpected mental health changes. There is an ongoing issue of triggering emotional or psychological disorders, especially when it comes to using VR in education. As already mentioned, virtual reality has effectively treated PTSD, but will it have the same effect on thousands of other mental illnesses, including depression, eating disorders and identity disorders?

Final Verdict

2020 seems like a reasonable year for virtual reality to take off. In the next few years, companies will have to test their products and take into consideration all potential dangers they might have on the human mind and their wellbeing. We are sure VR will become one of the main industries in the next few years and many will easily adapt to its lifestyle. But due to the generational gap and different cultures, virtual reality will still be just one of the many world’s technologies, for at least the next few years. The ongoing concerns over the addiction and other ethical violations coming with virtual reality will remain until they are proven otherwise. We are extremely excited to see what virtual reality will bring to the world in the next decade.

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