Virtual reality has had a few false starts over the past decade. Every time a new product is launched that is going to catapult VR into the affordable mainstream, we think this is it, only to come crashing down as we find that it is either prohibitively expensive, or – well, just a bit rubbish.
However, 2017 could be the year – we know, this sounds like just another this is it moment, but this time we really mean it, as for the first time, it is stepping out of the specialist development arena and being picked up by the big guys.
We all saw what happened with voice technology when Alexa blew into town last year. What had been an interesting application that was fun for a bit of schoolboy humor suddenly turned into the must-have gadget. The next thing we knew, Google and Apple were rushing to market with their own versions, and today, we are all doing a Jean Luc Picard as if it is the most natural thing in the world.
Affordability has certainly been the biggest obstacle thus far to VR really catching on. The Oculus Rift costs around $600, and that is just the start – you also need a computer with adequate performance, a suitable graphics card and, of course, some software to run in it. All in all, that means you are looking at the thick end of $2,000, and this from a device that was supposed to bring VR to the masses.
However, with the latest generation of smartphone-based systems, you can join the VR revolution with a headset that costs $100 or even less. Sure, it means that you will need a high-end smartphone, but with all the additional benefits that brings, upgrading your phone is definitely more cost-effective than shelling out a four figure sum.
Naturally, the first thing that we think of when it comes to VR is gaming, and there is more software appearing on the market with every week that goes by. As you might expect, most involve stumbling around some post-apocalyptic wasteland or taking control of an intergalactic craft, but when you think about it, that is only the beginning.
For example, when you consider the popularity of online casinos such as 888casino, the dawning of the VR age will mean that this will be a natural next step in channeling your inner James Bond or Danny Ocean, without having to leave the comfort of your sofa.
Is this it?
We have been fooled before, but when the likes of Google and Amazon start pouring in their investment dollars, then it is a good indication that a corner has been turned, so don’t be surprised if this Christmas’s version of the Alexa phenomenon has a virtual reality feel. Perhaps the most interesting thing will be to sit back and watch just how far and how fast the applications will progress. Now, where did I leave that virtual cup of Earl Grey?