Virtual Reality – Life Changing or Just Another Fad?

Virtual Reality (or VR as it’s more widely known) has been a topic that any technologically minded person has thought about in their lifetime, albeit it’s often pushed to the back of one’s mind. Since the first real advancements in VR technology with products such as Morton Heilig’s “Sensorama” in the 1950s people have had a fascination with this type of entertainment (VRS, 2015). This particular product allowed people to fully immerse themselves in a short film using a box which the viewer would put their head into and this allowed the stimulation of their senses while watching the film by using stereo speakers, a vibrating chair, a 3D display, and smell generators (VRS, 2015).

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As time has gone on, many companies have come along with their own ideas relating to VR such as VR gaming. However, not many of these took off as they contained many flaws within their design and pricing causing them to fail after hitting the market. An example of such a product was Nintendo’s “Virtual Boy” which was released in 1995 (Edwards, 2015). Despite what Nintendo was trying to achieve this was not true VR. It was originally designed as a headset but this never panned out and instead became a visor of sorts on stilts. The display for this product was in red and black which people complained caused headaches which also contributed to the discontinuation of this product. This idea, it would seem, was beyond its time as the technology 20 years ago could not produce the immersive effect that VR is supposed to offer and after only a few months on the market with disappointing sales it was discontinued (Edwards, 2015).

For the early parts of the 21st century, VR seemed to somewhat fade into the background but in recent years many advancements have been made such as the rise of the Oculus VR company which was bought by Mark Zuckerburg’s Facebook group in March 2014 for $2 billion (Soloman, 2014). Oculus have since released the Oculus Rift that has amassed a rather large following of people interested in VR gaming. While being rather expensive at around $599, the Rift has gained a lot of popularity with its ability to be able to hooked up to the player’s Xbox One to provide a more immersive gaming experience (Oculus, 2016). This has caused many other companies to follow suit in creating their own VR headsets such as Sony with their Playstation VR headset which is due to be released on the 13th October this year (Playstation, 2016) and HTC with their “Vive” headset with is a partnership with the popular gaming company, Valve, with will run their Steam technology on the headset (Vive, 2016).

Overall, the future seems bright for VR technology with lots of large companies investing money in this medium. This is a truly exciting time for VR enthusiasts.

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