Separating the Hype from the Substance in Virtual Reality
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Virtual reality had a lot of hype to live up to, and it hasn’t necessarily met the challenge. The two primary reasons halting the growth of this once-promising industry include slow development of technology and the fact that people aren’t buying enough virtual reality headsets. Some people have stated the headsets cost too much and are too uncomfortable for them to wear. The awkward attachment of the HDMI cable is yet another reason that has inhibited the growth of virtual reality.
Gartner’s Hype Cycle
When technology fails to live up to its initially high expectation, some industry analysts explain it using a term known as Gartner’s Hype Cycle. It goes like this:
- Peak of inflated expectations
- Trough of disillusionment
- Slope of enlightenment
- Plateau of productivity
Unfortunately for virtual reality, it seems to be stuck in the trough of disillusionment at present. However, that’s not to say it will remain there and die out entirely. Developers must learn from the early mistakes, create more affordable and comfortable equipment, and develop the technology to make it more useful to a larger segment of the population. If they can to that, they will eventually reach the plateau of productivity.
A Current Example of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Action
Freedom Architects of Japan builds approximately 400 customized homes each year. In line with one of the biggest emerging virtual reality trends, the company offers virtual-showroom tours to its customers to allow them greater insight into their choice than would be available with two dimensional designs. The company can provide this service by using building information modeling (BIM) software. Data from the program shows prospective customers exactly how a proposed design will look as well as feel and behave.
The ability to use this technology helps to prevent building mistakes that construction workers can’t undo after the fact. Before the development of virtual-showroom tours, employees of Freedom Architects couldn’t appreciate certain aspects of the design process until after completion of the home or building.
The Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality
Several consumer products that fall into the category of virtual or augmented reality already exist in the market. The most common examples include smartphones, tablets, wearables, consoles, and headsets. Most of these devices uses a virtual reality headset that relies on a smartphone to display the desired content. Unfortunately, a smartphone isn’t always a good choice to receive the highest quality of visual display. The bulkiness of headphones is also a big factor in people choosing not to use them for long periods.
According to an April 2018 article published at the website IT for All, virtual and augmented reality will merge in the future to become standalone units and tethered systems. Developers must continue to work on creating a wide field of view, improved brightness and better display resolution, a longer battery life, and 3D sensing capabilities. The author of the article predicts we will see this in the next three to five years, moving virtual and augmented reality from the current state of limbo into true usefulness and productivity.