The immersive technology world is changing every day. With new innovations being launched and companies push the boundaries of what is possible. Over the last 2 years alone we have gone from clunky VR headsets that needed incredibly powerful PC to run experience to headsets like The Quest 2 where everything you need is built in the headset. The question we want to try and answer is “What will Virtual Reality be like in the future?”
Virtual Reality is a simulation, allowing the user to interact with a world or environment that is made up models in 3d space. This is usually delivered through a Virtual Reality headset, a wearable screen. It sits on the wearer’s head and creates the illusion of being somewhere else.
For the past few years, using your smartphone as the screen for your VR headset has been the most common way of using virtual reality applications as it is the most affordable and accessible way.
The potential of VR is astounding. With the possibility of being to go anywhere, do anything, and be anyone. There is no limit to the amount of content that could be created.
What VR hardware is needed for an Authentic Experience?
To get an authentic virtual reality experience however, buying all the kit can be very costly. A common VR headset can cost anywhere from £300- £1500, and this usually would come with handheld controllers.
There are many different companies that sell virtual reality gear, such as Oculus, Pico, HTC, and Sony to name a few. Different companies focus on different aspects of VR such as hardware, selection of platforms, and price.
So if you’ve got the money, there is a great deal of things you can do with just the basics like a headset and controllers.
There are many headsets that work very well with the platform that they run on. If you already have a PlayStation 4 or 5, you can buy Sony’s VR headset that will run alongside your console.
Although it is mostly associated with games, Virtual Reality also is used in many different industries such as education or business.
So what can Virtual Reality do now?
With the current technology, we have the vision and motion-tracking technology is rapidly accelerating. The Pimax Vision 8K Plus has recently been released with an 8K resolution, per eye.
But there’s a problem, even though 8K seems like an insane amount, it’s still not enough.
“If you want the same number of pixels per degree — to have retinal resolution at that large a field of view, you’ll need about 60 million pixels per headset,” – Ed Tang, co-founder, and CEO of Avegant
With an 8k headset being around 16 thousand pixels per headset, perfect seems very far away.
There are also ways of making it seem as though a VR headset has better resolution. One way is increasing the pixel density in the centre of the screen, where the eye is facing most often.
Some companies have also implemented eye-tracking software. By knowing where the eye is looking, the system can render more detail in that area, saving processing power to prevent lag and a lower frame rate.
We are starting to see other pieces of hardware coming into the limelight to aid in the immersion of a VR experience. One aspect of using a VR headset that is a common problem is motion sickness. When using a headset your brain is conflicted as it sees movement, but your body doesn’t feel it.
The industry has tackled this in a number of ways, in a game where you are running for example; you could use an omnidirectional treadmill from a company such as Kat VR, which allows you to run in any direction, and very fast at that.
Or if you’re a fan of driving games, you could use a Yaw Motion simulator, a chair that moves with the car in the game, making it actually feel like you’re driving.
Some hardware within the industry has many other applications too. The company Haptx makes pressure-sensitive gloves that work by ‘Displacing your skin the same way a real object would’. So if you were to pick up an umbrella in a VR game, the gloves would react and you could feel as though you have picked up an umbrella.
This could also be used for a surgeon to perform a procedure from across the world, connected to a robotic arm, and be able to feel the scalpel in their hand.
Holding a loved one’s hand from a different country.
Or maybe diffusing a bomb from a safe distance.
With the headsets that we have now, there is always a downside.
Want a light headset? Bad graphics and motion tracking.
Want good hardware? Heavy and expensive.
We have a lot of peripherals that are still being developed to increase immersion. But they have downsides too, like being expensive or large.
Many people agree that there is one ultimate goal that would solve many of these problems.
A neural link.
The power to put a chip in your head, and get the same experiences that you would get from a Virtual Reality headset and peripherals. No gaps in immersion, taking up no room in your house, being able to do anything, with no limits with hardware.
Take an omnidirectional treadmill for example. You can run in any direction, in VR, whilst staying in one place. Very complicated and expensive, but the concept is comprehensible.
Now if we were to think about a machine that could simulate in the same way, but for swimming instead of running.
To make it feel realistic you’d have to feel weightless. To feel the pressure of the water on your body from every angle. The temperature of the water all over you, which would change, getting colder as you got in and warmer as you got out.
That’s a lot of work and money for someone to pioneer a super-suit complete with pulleys and a pressurised skin. So when we say what will virtual reality be like in the future? There is a likely chance that it would be nothing, as the customer could just actually go swimming and the exact same or better experience without all the effort and money.
But with a neural link chip, it would actually feel like you were there. With complete accuracy, with none of the effort. No omnidirectional treadmill, no super suit.
Waiting for the gas man? Skydive.
Is your car having the MOT? Defend a medieval fort from invaders.
There are things that you couldn’t simulate at all in VR ever. Take being intoxicated for example, this you could do with a neural link.
It seems crazy and that this technology would be far in the future, but Elon Musk founded Neuralink in 2016. The future is nearly here!
So, what will virtual reality be like in the future?
We think that Virtual Reality will continue to become more and more immersive. First with the help of peripherals becoming better, smaller, and cheaper. Until one day it will become obsolete, and you can get a chip in your brain to simulate the experience at any time.
Here are some frequently asked questions about VR that we get in response to our blogs.
Which headset should I buy?
This is a big one. It really boils down to what you want it for and how much you are willing to spend.
The oculus quest 2 is the current favourite. It is at the lower end of the current price range, allows you to use it untethered (no restrictive wires) and is highly compatible. One annoying aspect is that have to have a Facebook account to be able to use the headset. but all thing considered it’s not a bad piece of kit.
Another option is PlayStation VR for PS4 and PS5. Also at the lower end of the price range, and highly compatible with PlayStations.
This makes it very easy to use if you already have a PlayStation.
We have also been asked about the Nintendo Labo, a headset similar in principle in that you would need an existing games console. Although much more affordable, the Nintendo Labo consists of the screen of a Nintendo switch inside a cardboard shell. Without a strap. This means you have to build it yourself. And then to use it you have to hold it up to your face when you’re using it.
If you’re looking for quality, maybe take a look at the Valve Index, coming in at around £900 for the full kit.
It uses ‘light house sensors’ that can be placed in a room and aid in the motion tracking and room scaling. This makes the experience more pleasant, and coupled with amazing graphics, a ton of settings and state of the art controllers. It is one of the best kits on the market.
Are there any health risks with Virtual Reality?
Some users have reported being injured whilst using Virtual Reality equipment. There have been cases of long-term effects such as eye strain or RSI (repetitive strain injury).
When using VR equipment, you can quickly lose your bearings and spatial awareness.
As mentioned earlier, one of the other main side effects is motion sickness and nausea. This is brought on mostly by moving through space while your body remains still. This can be helped with the use of peripherals, like the omnidirectional treadmill.
Most of the other health risks however, like eye strain, RSI and lack of spatial awareness, can be lessened by proper planning and regular breaks. Many of well reported cases of damaged eyesight are from people who have worn them for several hours a day.
For more FAQ’S, check out our dedicated FAQ page!