I listened to industry leaders both inspire and caution entrepreneurs about the future of the VR platform. John Riccitiello, the CEO of the ubiquitous Unity game development platform, believes that the industry will continue to progress, but won't reach massive acceptance for a few years yet. Pie-in-the-sky predictions aside, he believes it will be a few yet until true VR tech will be in the hands of one hundred million users and the industry can be considered well-established.
At the same time, excitement was palpable, and proof of the technology was everywhere.
Applications varied wildly. Here's just some of what I was doing at VRLA:
Floated inside and outside a meticulously detailed recreation of the International Space Station, produced with the involvement of NASA. https://www.oculus.com/experiences/rift/1178419975552187/
- Experienced the magic of being inside a retro style cartoon—and creating my own, VR style, utilizing Mindshow. https://mindshow.com/
- Tried out Bebylon,a bizarre world featuring adults stuck in toddler's bodies. http://www.roadtovr.com/kite-lightning-raises-2-5m-develop-bebylon/
- Experienced Foreverse, a pilot for a VR series that is attempting find a Kickstarter campaign.
|Trying out Foreverse
All were great experiences, and show just a hint of the wonders that VR will hold in store in the coming years. The VR industry is moving lightning fast, and many of the companies and projects on the exhibition floor didn't exist a year ago. Of course, perhaps half of those companies or more may not be around in another year, but that's the reality of any new venture...high risk, for the potential of a high reward.
The technology is real. Unlike the recent launch and crash of 3DTV, VR has something valuable to offer gamers, educators and even bed-ridden patients in hospitals. It's just a matter of time.
At the moment, VR tech is still expensive and somewhat complicated for most consumers, but that's rapidly improving. Most haven't experienced any sort of VR, and most of those who have, experience it through cardboard viewers (into which one inserts a smartphone). Personal experience has shown me that people don't "get it" until they've tried it.
While I'm impressed by the tech, the industry and the VR experiences, I'm fascinated by the people that are making this all happen—the coders, content creators, writers and entrepreneurs who by necessity have had to think outside the box—because the box doesn't exist.