Virtual reality has been evolving since 1985 when Jaron Lanier founded VPL Research.Since then it has made its way into present-day technologies such as Oculus Rift, Sony Project Morpheus, and Google Cardboard, to name a few.
As more of these products come through over the next few years, it raises the question: Does virtual reality have an invitation into the customer’s home? If so, when? And what does this mean for home theater installation?
We asked CEDIA veteran volunteer Rich Green to answer these questions and give us some insight into what the future of virtual reality means for the home technology industry.
What is the difference between augmented and virtual reality?
Augmented reality is a mediated reality, in which your natural view and perception of reality is enhanced and modified by electronic visual overlays. In an AR environment, you still see what is around you but electronic images float into and on top of your field of view. Google Glass is a form of augmented reality, as are many smart phone apps that use the phone’s camera to present “reality” then overlay data and other images.
AR can become interactive with the use of object recognition and computer vision to detect hands that can manipulate virtual objects. Microsoft Hololens and Magic Leap are two AR initiatives to watch very closely over the next few months.
Virtual reality is completely simulated. There is no view into the real world when you are immersed in virtual reality. This requires a head-mounted display, often with 3D optics, to immerse the viewer in a computer-generated world. Video resolution, 3D spatial resolution and low latency have all come together in the past two years to make VR a viable consumer technology.
How do you think virtual reality will be used in the future?
The creative possibilities of virtual reality are endless. It is a new medium for storytelling and we saw a flurry of VR cinema experiments at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Of course, it has been invaluable for military and flight simulation and will continue with higher resolution and more immersive movement in the space with the addition of technologies such as Sixense.
In the home, VR will initially be used for gaming with personal headsets. Right now VR is very hard to share with other players, but it can be done. It’s currently possible to build VR rooms that can be shared by several users. The next ten years will bring more practical implementations of that special room in the home where education, training, health and wellness consulting, business meetings and multi-player gaming can happen. It will be a holodeck in the home and it will be completely and uncontrollably addictive. Yes, this is a huge opportunity for technology integrators.
How will virtual reality affect the home electronic industry?
Virtual reality is the end game for home entertainment—nothing else compares. VR in mobile devices is already underway, and that is a personal, immersive experience that is relatively easy to attain. It will spawn new forms of content, and it is content that drives innovation in home electronics.
Once we see designs and technology for shared VR experiences in the home there will be a market renaissance much like we saw for home theater in the 1990s. The first VR rooms will be extremely difficult to design and install, and therein lies the opportunity for trained CEDIA professionals.
Looking to learn more about virtual and augmented reality? Check out our related Emerging Trends webinar, Virtual and Augmented Reality
on April 16, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).