Week in Tech: Virtual Reality
What is the first thing you think of when you think about Virtual Reality (VR)? Don’t worry, you can admit it, it’s all of those funny YouTube clips of ‘Virtual Reality Gone Wrong’, isn’t it? Knew it! Don’t worry, we’re not judging – we all laughed at that clip of Ronnie O’Sullivan falling through a non-existent snooker table. Whilst amusing gaffes might be the reason that VR hits the headlines from time to time, the technology has far more to offer when you scratch beneath the surface. VR is a big business nowadays and the headset experience can be used for far more than just videogames as this ‘Week in tech’ will show.
The virtual reality revolution is in full swing as shipments surpassed 1 million in a quarter for the first time. This landmark was achieved through a mixture of different VR products from household names. It was Sony who could boast the most sales with 490,000 shipments of their PlayStation VR headset. This was followed by the Oculus Rift device with 210,000 shipments and HTC’s Vive headset with 160,000. The surge in sales has been attributed to Oculus slashing their prices to make VR more widely affordable – allowing VR to reach a wider audience. The International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts huge growth in VR sales over the next few years.
NASA has recently demonstrated how virtual reality technology be used beyond videogames as they utilise the technology to advance space exploration research. Thanks to the new development of virtual reality suites, both students and scientists can view the explore the universe at the Goddard Spaceflight Center. The technology is being used to search different rock formations and identify damaged satellites, saving time and money. The experience has provided students with a really engaging and innovative teaching tool that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. NASA have been big supporters of VR technology from an early stage and they are certainly seeing the benefits that the technology can bring.
VR technology has also been embraced by the prestigious MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The museum has launched its first ever virtual reality exhibit called “The Enemy” which uses VR to put museum visitors face-to-face with fighters who’ve experienced real-life conflicts. The exhibit looks at rival groups within civil wars – including El Salvador, DR of Congo and Israel. The fighters speak to visitors in their native tongue sharing their war stories and talking of how they eventually came to peace. The technology helps to create an immersive story-telling experience that puts you in the centre of the action and offers a detailed summary of all the battles.
As if the record number of VR sales wasn’t enough, a Virtual Reality theme park is being opened in China! This state-of-the-art park is to be opened in Guiyang, Guinhou in February 2018! Visitors will be able to go on rides through virtual reality goggles and they will be spoiled for choice with 35 different VR attractions being created throughout the park. The 33-acre park will be in one of China’s poorest provinces in the hope of bringing some income to the area. The project itself will cost an eye-watering $1.5 billion! The country is thought to be investing such serious funds due to its commitment to growing its gaming, sport, and technology industries.