Virtual reality- is it just a gimmick?

Virtual reality- is it just a gimmick?

For a while, virtual reality (VR) was seen as the next big thing, and with Facebook, Google, Samsung, PlayStation and other major tech companies getting involved, it doesn’t seem like it will be long before virtual reality devices are everywhere! However, with concerns over the health of users, the cost and the ease of use of VR devices, we’re not so sure…

What’s so great about VR?
Virtual reality devices come in all forms. From your smart phone, to PC to games consoles, the idea is that these VR devices immerse you in what you’re watching or playing as much as possible, enhancing your entertainment experience.

How is VR being used?
Successfully changing the landscape of personal and group entertainment, VR is present in many industries already, whether we realised this or not! Even popping on your 3D glasses in the cinema is a step towards a more immersive experience. And what about Facebook’s 360 photographs? Allowing you to move your device to determine what you see offers you control and more access to what’s there. This is the appeal of at home devices in particular.

Also in some countries such as China, where once video game arcades were, VR stores are popping up to fill the demand for those who cannot afford their own VR device. Theme parks are also adopting VR to enhance the experiences of their visitors.

What’s available on the market?
From the cheap and cheerful cardboard based products to mount your smart phone, such as Google Cardboard, to the more expensive and sophisticated standalone devices such as Oculus Rift, there is a plethora of products coming out as many brands rush to cash in on the novelty, subsequently making VR devices accessible to most consumers in this market.

What are the issues?
Japanese gaming supergiant, Nintendo, have actively spoken out against implementing VR into their offering, suggesting that “…Nintendo is always about the mass market, but right now VR is years away from becoming mainstream.” * In particular, VR devices are not recommended for children, Nintendo’s major audience; a move to adopt VR may isolate some of its key consumers.

Furthermore, there are concerns over the health of users, with long-term use of VR devices suggested to cause eye strain, nausea and headaches, as well as anxiety and stress. ** Without further research, the impact of these symptoms on the market is not yet known.

Also, users have reported difficulties setting up and running devices. When the cost of devices and games is added to these frustrations, VR becomes less appealing.

2016 is slated to be the year of VR technology so whether these devices will continue to enthral consumers or whether they end up as a passing novelty, we’ll have to wait and see!

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