Virtual Reality - trend to watch or this years 3D TV?

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7 April 2016
Craig Beattie
[avatar user="cbeattie@celent.com" size="thumbnail" align="right" /]

The latest technology the tech community are getting excited about is virtual reality (VR). This isn't new as a concept, in fact I recall the scientists in Jurassic Park using virtual reality to manipulate DNA back in 1993 and that was not the first film to leverage it. VR as a concept is as old as 3D imaging and television. Now though, gaming technology and the ubiquity of small high definition screens have enabled relatively accessible machines that offer the wearer the impression of being inside a 3D generated universe.

There are multiple units available now, with varying levels of capability as well as increasing content from pure entertainment like immersive videos to games and other content. The opportunities for collaborating in a real-time 3 dimension virtual space are also being tested out in some industries.

Will this take off or is it this years 3D TV? It wasn't that long ago that the future of the television industry was bet on families wearing spectacles in their living room watching 3D content. The industry has moved on to 4K and UHD in the last couple of years with 3D TV left as a novelty - so will VR see mass appeal or is this just another novelty?

Sadly, I think only time will tell. Early reports of the technology tell of a truly immersive experience that is quite different from those that have gone before. Now it will depend on the price point, the content and the perception of the practice itself.

Back when the Nintendo Wii came out there was a spate of damaged HD TV's resulting from accidentally flinging the remote at the television. The VR equivalent may be damaging oneself and the equipment through falling through desks that aren't really there - as these videos and article show. Perhaps this will be the first impact to the insurance industry as we see a rise in VR related damage and injuries.

In the future, as virtual reality improves perhaps we will see agents and customers communicating in virtual environments - assuming VR is preferred to face time and voice calls. Perhaps class rooms will be virtual in the future and agents will be trained in virtual auditoriums, mini-conferences held in virtual hotels and project meetings in virtual offices.

As with other digital channels, this will be another addition to those who chose to adopt it and a costly addition to their technology. For now - a technology to watch and if opportunities arise - a business case to construct should should the time come.

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