If 2016 was the year that Virtual Reality (VR) officially landed, 2017 is the time when those with their hands on the hardware and the software can prove that there’s more to it than just gaming. When we think about Virtual Reality , we assume that it concerns gaming. The main reason is that the gaming industry already has an infrastructure of know-how and software that could shift to VR production with relative ease. That’s why you hear a lot about video games when talking about the Oculus Rift or PS VR headsets. While it is still true, it starts to involve more and more domains such as movies, and even medical.
For the moment, the sector seems to be dominated by the Oculus Rift and Samsung. It is divided between the complete headset such as the Oculus Rift and the headset where you plugin your own cellphone, like the Samsung VR. But more and more actors are launching promising products that will shake the market. During the last Sundance Film Festival, a film made a remarkable impression to the audience. Miyubi, at 40 minutes, is the first VR movie to feel like a real film. It was funded by Facebook, which is now almost certainly the biggest spender in this area, since the purchase of Oculus Rift. The success of this movie is one clue that VR movies will be more and more invested in, and that it will be more and more mainstream.
Another unexpected domain where VR is going to expand is the medical one. One application of the VR is this aera may be to reduce fear and pain in children during vaccination. In a study of 244 children at Sansum Clinic locations in California, roughly half of the children were given virtual reality goggles to view ocean scenes while getting their seasonal flu shot. Parents and clinicians for both groups were surveyed after, and reported the VR group felt less pain and fear than those braving it without. Another more interesting usage of the VR may also be its possible ability to bring a new solution to deal with dementia. A recent UK company, Tribemix, has developed a series of virtual reality experiences that take people living with dementia in care out of the residential homes and away to a range of relaxing places, and it shows great results.
We are at the beginning of what we can do with VR, and 2017 will definitely prove it to us!