Most of us have some idea of what virtual reality is. VR has revolutionized the entertainment industry, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
If you want to develop your understanding of what VR is and how it applies to entertainment, or if you want to follow the progress of the VR revolution, this post is for you!
What exactly do we mean by ‘VR’?
VR – virtual reality – relies on a network of connected hardware and software to immerse an individual in a simulated world that is vastly different from their own.
Hardware components tend to include headsets that put displays in front of the user’s eyes in combination with 3D motion tracking devices, haptic feedback, and surround sound. The VR hardware market is led by some distance by Oculus (Meta).
A software element typically uses computer modeling to create an environment that approximates a version of reality that the individual can interact with, but there are many different ways this can be interpreted and used.
When combined, VR hardware and software can provide powerful and revolutionary ways for individuals to interact with the digital world.
What is ‘Augmented Reality’?
Augmented reality (AR) is related to VR, but the two should not be confused. AR predates VR in some respects, but the goals and strategies are not the same. Simply put, while VR creates an entirely new environment, AR modifies the existing one.
Instead of creating a simulated world, AR creates digital content in the real world, transforming walls, floors and objects. Users can often interact with a digital overlay placed on their environment.
AR is generally not complex, and therefore can be performed using minimal specialized technology. Many smartphones and wearable devices are capable of providing an augmented reality experience.
VR and AR in entertainment
VR and AR have had a huge impact on the entertainment industry, and the range of applications is truly amazing…
Gaming was one of the first industries to adopt AR and VR technologies and continues to be at the forefront of the VR revolution. The game lends itself to VR technologies because it often wants to immerse the players in a new world.
Generally, VR games only require a headset to play, but there are more sophisticated setups that involve multiple peripherals. These may include gloves, monitors, other wearable technologies, haptic devices for tactile sensory feedback, gun stocks, steering wheels, and treadmills.
VR and AR have both been applied to mobile gaming in recent years, particularly in augmented reality games, which are enjoying a lot of success. With increasingly affordable VR headsets that can access the capabilities of modern smartphones (or using a headset housing that includes the phone), environment-based games and immersive horror games are becoming increasingly popular.
Film and TV
VR has revolutionized the film and TV industries. VR’s ability to immerse the viewer in an experience has proven to work well in this context. One popular use of VR in film is to put the viewer at the center of a 360-degree experience, giving them the power and freedom to choose where they appear.
Both VR and AR can tell interactive narratives that bridge the gap between video games and film or TV. The ability of these technologies to power a wide range of storytelling formats is so great that big players in the entertainment industry are getting on board and throwing huge amounts of money at projects like feature-length animations, horror experiences, and blockbusters. Franchise universes like Star Wars.
The online gambling industry has been quick to set its sights on VR and AR. Immersion is crucial to online betting, and creating virtual casinos seems like a smart move.
In the context of online gambling, VR can allow players to move their avatar around a virtual casino where they can win real money at various games. You can join other players at blackjack tables, or play reasonable slot machines and take advantage of promotions that only online casinos can offer, such as low wagering casino bonuses.
An exciting and innovative VR application is the world of virtual tours, which basically allows the user to experience remote locations that they never get a chance to visit in reality.
Virtual tourists can visit Machu Picchu even though it’s physically out of reach for many, stop under the Eiffel Tower, or look around an art gallery from the comfort of their own home.
Live events and more.
The live events sector has broadcast concerts played to VR headsets around the world, allowing more people to enjoy a show than could be in the venue in person.
AR also has the potential to enhance live events, adding interactive elements and additional visual effects to enhance the experience.
Where entertainment embraces VR, so will the advertising that comes with it. VR and AR ads are inevitable, offering consumers a deeper and more immersive view of their products and services than ever before.
VR and AR more than entertainment
While VR and AR have had great success when applied to entertainment, it’s important to note that other industries have also benefited from these technologies.
In education, students of all ages have been using VR to transport them into an engaging and interactive reality that can facilitate new ways of learning. This has been particularly successful when exploring concepts such as architecture, virtual field trips, and scientific concepts.
Children with learning disabilities have used VR as a way to learn more about the world around them from the safety of a controlled environment.
Medical simulators featuring accurate anatomical 3D models allow surgeons to practice without risking patients. Therapists have used VR in therapy, exposing phobia patients to their fears in a safe and controlled way.
The scope of VR and AR applications is clearly vast, far beyond the world of entertainment.
The future of VR
These technologies may be in their infancy, but there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more of them in the near future. What makes them so exciting is probably not just the individual enhancements they bring, but their wide application in the entertainment industry and beyond.
There is also a middle ground between AR and VR, known as ‘mixed reality’, which includes elements from both. This hybrid implementation of these technologies may become an increasingly popular approach as hardware and software become more affordable and advanced.