As someone who grew up with video games and then fell in love with internet technology, the allure of VR has always been strong to me. It’s the perfect intersection of both, limited only by the thresholds of our current technologies.
When I first put on the Oculus Rift at GDC a few years ago, I had a lot of fun blasting my way through robots and immersing myself in a true virtual environment. When I took off the headset though, I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed.
Graphically, it felt like the good ‘ol Nintendo 64 days with decent visual appeal and not very much realism. Content wise, it couldn’t touch Nintendo with a 1,000 foot pole mainly because the UX of VR at the time was still too clunky and unrefined for mass market appeal outside of nerds and gamers.
Despite the buzzkill, I knew one day the graphical power would be there eventually and virtual reality will be indistinguishable from reality itself. The games, content and UX will make significantly leaps as well. Collectively, when that happens, VR/AR/MR will finally have its inevitable “Netscape moment.”
In just the last few months, I couldn’t help but notice an acceleration across several fronts which tells me that moment is not far away. There’s so much momentum in the space and anyone who is looking to get into an emerging tech industry on the cusp of rocket boost mode should take a deep look at Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality.
Andreessen Horowitz made a massive $68 million investment in SandboxVR , an out-of-home VR experience that’s supposed to be superior to anything else out there. This particular investment was a critical one for the entire industry because they have a proven track record of successfully betting on some of the most disruptive companies ever.
Platforms are improving
Apple continues to push forward with their Augmented Reality development platform. ARKit 1 was released in Sept 2017 and ARKit 2 was released the following year with significant improvements. This year, with WWDC on the horizon, the rumor is that there will hardware support in the form of AR Stereo headsets. While we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, that could mean that AR Glasses could be a 2020 or 2021 reality.
…a brand new Swift-only framework for AR and a companion app that lets developers create AR experiences visually. ARKit gets the ability to detect human poses. For game developers, the OS will support controllers with touch pads and stereo AR headsets.
Microsoft also recently announced the Hololens 2 Mixed Reality headset for $3500, which is targeted at enterprises and businesses. This positions them as a powerhouse in the next generation of computing.
It wouldn’t feel right if the future of VR/AR/MR didn’t include Nintendo. It’s nice to know that they’ve been busy too and came out with the Nintendo Labo VR Kit which turns the Switch into a VR device.
And of course we have the Oculus Quest, from Facebook, which is set to ship on May 21st. Some strongly believe that this is the platform that will elevate VR into mass adoption and that if it doesn’t, nothing will. Whether or not it’ll be able to do that remains to be seen, but as far as I’m concerned, if it doesn’t, there are going to be several other horses to power it forward.
Content Getting Better
Naturally, as with all other internet and gaming platforms that we’ve seen, as the platforms evolve and get better, so do the games and content.
I personally haven’t tried it yet, the apparently the incredible sensation of flight is pretty damn good with Iron Man VR.
SandboxVR’s out of home VR experience, is up to something special and is in position to be the platform that takes VR to the next level because the founders are on a mission. So far the reviews have been strong for their Bay Area locations. Check out this hero-like story behind the company if you want to get a little hyped up.
We get to build not just a virtual reality, but a better reality that transforms you and transports you.
We’re building experiences where you can bond with friends on new adventures.
To create a reality where you can be what you want to be and go wherever you want to go.
They recently released a new game called Blader, which looks pretty sweet and opens up a bunch of new doors we haven’t seen yet in competitive VR.
It’s starting to smell like the early days of movie theaters or arcades, where you can get a far superior experience than anything you can get at home. Over time, the in-home experience got too damn good with HD TVs, home theaters, super powerful video game consoles, and fast Internet bandwidth. Why leave home, when home is so good?
Also check out this pretty badass demo of Augmented and Mixed Reality:
Breaking new ground
As VR/AR/MR progresses, we’re starting to see things that we haven’t seen before and are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
Andrew Chen makes a fitting comment on Ryan Hoover’s SandboxVR Blader post above and foreshadows VR and eSports – which also seems like an inevitable and natural evolution of the space.
I had to think about this one a few times, but apparently Marshmellow had a concert in Fortnite and people seemed to love it! Fornite isn’t exactly VR, but it’s a certainly a virtual world in its own right.
Coachella also had a little injection of AR too:
And here’s a glimpse into the future of education:
How to Get Into This Hot Industry?
With more investment, improved platforms, better content, and innovations being delivered, it’s tough not to get excited. So how can you capitalize on this fast evolving space that is certainly to be part of the future world we live in?
- Work for a VR/AR/MR company
- Be an early adopter and test out all the latest and greatest platforms, games, and content.
- Develop something for the space. Build some of your own cool side projects that demo an idea the world hasn’t seen yet.
- Read, watch, listen, and learn as much as you can about the people, companies, products, and trends that are fueling the momentum.
- Write or create content that will help the industry move forward.