Is VR Getting Better?
You may believe you’ve tried virtual reality and been rather impressed. There are some fantastic experiences out there (or rather, in there) nowadays, especially if you’re a gamer. However, in VR, like in many technology domains, we’ve been told that we would see things that make what’s cutting-edge now appear like Space Invaders in the coming years. That said, is VR truly getting better?
VR has progressed significantly in only five years. VR games like Half-Life Alyx, Beat Saber, and Pavlov VR showcased what is possible. Pricing improved, some headsets went wireless, and VR’s library grew as Oculus, HTC, Valve, Sony, and other hardware firms introduced their own headgear.
Let’s Return to the year 2016. The Oculus Rift is already available, and the HTC Vive is close after. We’re on the verge of a new gaming frontier, one step closer to the sci-fi ideal of totally immersive virtual reality. However, there are still a few downsides that need to be addressed in the VR realm. That said, let’s take a closer look at the growth of VR, how it is now, and what the future may unfold.
Has VR Improved Over The Years?
From the Nintendo Wii to Oculus Rift to the HoloLens to Pokemon Go, the previous ten years of virtual reality and augmented reality have delivered some good, some terrible, and a lot of bizarre. However, in 2019, virtual reality (VR) has seen a substantial increase in popularity. This technology can transform our lives, social and professional lives.
To breakthroughs like Ready Player One, VR is a totally immersive computer-generated environment that gives us a real-world perspective. Furthermore, the advancements in virtual reality are fascinating.
In 2016, mobile-based virtual reality headsets accounted for over 85% of all virtual reality headsets sold globally. The most popular mobile-based VR headsets were ‘Google Daydream’ and ‘Samsung Gear VR.’
Following the increasing deployment of VR technology in recent years, the technology has garnered worldwide attention. As a result, numerous new firms are entering the industry intending to guide VR into widespread use.
Furthermore, the introduction of commercial virtual reality headsets is predicted to boost market growth, and investments from technical behemoths like ‘Google’ are expected to result in advancements in display technology.
Furthermore, as major companies increase their spending on research and development, the market is predicted to become more competitive in the following years, with a projected value of USD 30 billion by 2026.
2016: The Big Bang Of VR Gear Floods The Market
2016 was the year when virtual reality became over-saturated. Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, and Microsoft’s following low-cost virtual reality headsets became a reality.
All I recall from 2016 is trying to keep up with an onslaught of virtual reality from all sides. So many VR fans rigged up holodecks at work, transported VR sets to their homes home in backpacks, and wired their houses to play PlayStation VR. Virtual reality was the way of the future.
Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, was featured on the cover of Time magazine. In a theme park lure in Times Square, players took on the role of virtual Ghostbusters. The expectations were sky-high. Some of the events were mind-blowing. Every pair of goggles on the planet had a different face connected to them!
Most headsets required a PC to run and a lot of necessary hardware and software patches, complicated installations, and patience. Still, we all enjoyed plunging in and seeing what strange surprises new programmes had in store. During that first year, several of the finest VR games were born: Space Pirate Trainer, Fantastic Contraption, and Job Simulator, to name a few.
It was difficult to explain why VR was so fantastic, and it was certainly not a technology that could be integrated into a typical home. And many of its better applications seemed like demonstrations, lovely novelties, or thrilling rides you’d try a few times before abandoning.
Where Does VR Currently Stand In 2022?
After so many years, virtual reality has finally reached a tipping point, when one platform will sell 10 million devices, which is considered a magic number for a healthy environment. In addition, many individuals have a headset buddy, so it’s easier for someone to check one out and be persuaded to buy one.
Furthermore, it implies that the market is large enough for developers to make a living by selling content to customers. Therefore, more developers equal more and better games, which equals more users who come for the content, which equals a larger market, which equals more developers, etc.
Meta Plays A Large Role In Making VR Better
Of course, the gadget that is approaching (or has already hit) this magical number is the Oculus Quest 2, which has literally brought virtual reality out of the deserts and made it the first consumer device.
Quest isn’t quite mainstream yet, but let’s say it’s on its way there. Unfortunately, this isn’t occurring everywhere: right now, it’s mainly in the United States, owing to Meta’s large marketing drive in street advertising and television advertisements.
Because this marketing campaign is only getting started in Europe, penetration is still low. At the moment, the adoption of virtual reality varies significantly across the globe. It is practically popular in the United States; it is something for individuals who understand gaming or technology in Europe. Unfortunately, it is extremely tough to obtain a headset in South America.
The situation is typically not as consistent as people believe: after speaking with other VR creators, I discovered that the United States accounts for 50-70% of each game’s income. Unfortunately, the rest of the world continues to fall behind, which has to be addressed.
Oculus Quest 2: Leading The VR Master Race
The other source of disparity is the type of headsets available in the market: Quest 2 headsets account for nearly all purchased headsets in the consumer market. Meta sells an excellent product with excellent information at a low rate, and its offer is unrivalled.
On the one hand, it has been fantastic for expanding the VR business. Still, on the other hand, it is growing worrying because Meta now has a de-facto monopoly, dominating all standalone VR and more than 60% of the PCVR market. Given that Facebook has been linked to several questionable tactics in the past knowing that our market is entirely in their control does not make me pleased.
In 2022, I see VR becoming more prevalent in the European consumer market, as evidenced by the fact that Meta has begun to display commercials for the Quest in various European nations. If Meta can get into the European market, it will be able to sell many millions more headsets than it did in 2021.
It also intends to recruit 10,000 individuals working in XR in Europe. Although I am pleased that Meta is investing in European talent, I am concerned that managing all of these people would put more pressure on EU rules on XR privacy. Nevertheless, because of the massive rise of the Quest 2, I believe that the VR industry will continue to grow in 2022.
In 2022-2023, virtual reality will undoubtedly penetrate the general market, and I’m curious if this will be only due to Quest or will other devices play a role. We really need a competitor, and I hope to see one by the end of the year. However, in terms of performance and overall experience, a few areas still require improvements.
Aspects VR Still Needs To Improve
Despite these advancements and updates throughout time, there are still difficulties that prevent VR games from reaching their full potential. Here are some of the most critical issues in virtual reality that need to be addressed in 2022 and beyond.
Moving Things Around
In VR, hand movement is well-executed. In addition, a grip button is included on newer controllers, which helps to simulate making up things. When you try to toss the object, though, the immersion is immediately broken.
When picking up virtual items with controllers, there is no sensation of weight, making velocity challenging to measure and tossing feel unnatural. Weight is frequently added to items in physics-based games, but it won’t go far if you can’t physically tell the difference with your controller.
There isn’t a simple solution, but Microsoft believes haptic feedback, which Sony employed in the DualSense controller on the PS5, may hold the key (and a recently revealed VR patent).
Microsoft announced PIVOT, a wrist-worn haptic device that faithfully recreates throwing and grabbing mechanics while leaving your hand free when not holding back, in October 2020. This technology might be used in the next generation of virtual reality controllers.
Lower Body Movement
It’s challenging to master locomotion. VR games with static frames of reference, such as cockpits, are typically good, but developers employ various strategies for unrestricted movement. For example, some provide teleportation, which allows you to point to a location and jump there with a single click.
It works, but it isn’t really immersive. Others use arm movement as a basis, which isn’t very practical. A better, more immersive solution is smooth joystick movement, but it might not be very pleasant. Snap turning was created to combat motion sickness, but refining movement in virtual reality remains a struggle.
Motion controllers and a headset are included in most VR kits, but they can’t yet reliably record your entire body. There are third-party options available, but they aren’t really good. For example, the Virtuix Omni introduced us to a virtual reality “treadmill,” which proved to be inconvenient and expensive.
3dRudder and AgileVR are two potential options: one is a foot controller, while the other is an exoskeleton that looks more like a motion-tracked knee brace than Ripley’s power armour.
They’re both light solutions that might help you immerse yourself further by tracking your movements with your legs and feet. However, it will stay marginalised until game developers and VR companies like Oculus or Valve adopt this technology.
In virtual reality, motion sickness is common. When your eyes signal your brain that you’re moving, but your body doesn’t, nausea might develop. Starting with simple VR games like Beat Saber will help you build up a tolerance before moving on to battle royales like POPULATION: One or anything else that requires you to move your body with an analogue stick.
Veteran users, on the other hand, may suffer. Motion sickness can be combated in various ways, but it might yet be improved on a hardware level. Valve’s recent work with OpenBCI, which investigates a headgear that directly connects with brain impulses to prevent this impact, is a promising start.
The 72Hz refresh rate of the initial Oculus Quest was a significant trade-off and possible source of motion sickness. The Quest 2 raises that requirement to 90Hz, although it still falls short of the Valve Index’s 120Hz limit.
Comfort settings, such as turning off camera shaking, varying movement settings, or a restricted range of vision, are already prevalent in VR games. However, this is up to the developer’s decision, making it inconsistent.
Giving players better warnings and expectations is one technique that might assist. It wouldn’t fix the problem in and of itself, but it would assist you in making informed judgments.
The Oculus Store deserves credit for this, as each game has a comfort rating that indicates whether the experience is “Comfortable,” “Moderate,” or “Intense” in a colour-coded fashion. It’s a great concept, but Steam, Viveport, and other VR merchants have yet to implement it.
The Price Of VR Headsets
I’m not implying that all VR gaming is costly, but we all know how expensive PC gaming can be. VR headsets can add substantially to an already hefty investment when professional installations cost £1000 and £2000.
Although Oculus headsets are less expensive, the Vive Cosmos costs $699 (USD), and the Valve Index costs $999. If rumours of Apple’s high-end VR headset are accurate, the device may cost up to $3000, but this would be an extreme case.
More cheap headsets, such as the Oculus Quest, have made a significant difference. There’s no disputing that the first Quest model was less powerful, but at $299, Quest 2 delivers a standalone headset with performance comparable to PC headsets.
It doesn’t have the same extensive library as PC VR, but Oculus Link and a Virtual Desktop can help you improve it if you have a decent PC. Concerns about Facebook remain Oculus’s major flaw, although the Quest did break through a critical pricing barrier.
Will VR Get Even Better In The Near Future?
According to Valuates, between 2018 and 2025, the VR and AR industry is predicted to increase at a CAGR of 63.3%. By 2025, the CAGR will be $571 billion. In addition, the ongoing usage of smartphones increased Internet access, and advanced mobile gaming will contribute to this expansion.
North America continues to have a significant portion of the VR and AR market. Still, Asia-Pacific will grow the fastest, with China, India, Japan, and South Korea having the most substantial demand for virtual reality head-mounted gaming device displays.
Nonetheless, owing to a lack of efficient user experience design and limited uptake in developing nations, the business will continue to struggle. However, in terms of gaming updates, let’s look at what we may be looking forward to in years to come.
The Metaverse And Future Predictions
Let’s give the metaverse nomenclature a chance to breathe for a moment. It’s the newest tech buzzword to be plastered all over the place. So will it be an Oasis found in Ready Player One or even lead to additional full-dive capabilities like in isekai fantasies demonstrated in the Sword Art Online anime? Only time will tell!
The metaverse concept has always struck me as an admission that cross-device and cross-app compatibility is needed to enable broader communities across VR, AR, phones, and PCs. It’ll happen gradually. Nvidia, for example, is offering collaborative 3D graphics tools that will allow metaverse-wide standards.
However, many organisations are claiming to have the solution without a clear understanding of how it would operate. But 2022 is only a few months old, and I expect things to settle out before the end of the year.
In terms of full-dive, many experts claim that we underestimate short-term growth and over-estimate long-term growth. However, full-dive tech is predicted to be introduced to our reality in the next 10-20 years! That said, here are some additional predictions for 2025:
- All or most of the hardware difficulties that are now holding VR back will be fixed. GPU, batteries, display resolution, RAM, frame rates, and so on are all things to consider.
- As components get lighter and more closely packed, the size and weight of headsets will continue to decrease.
- The artificial boundary between AR and VR will vanish, and you will be able to use one MR gadget to access both. Furthermore, If you’re using an augmented reality app, the device will lower opacity and overlay information on top of the natural environment. The glasses in VR software would be opaque and totally immerse you in a virtual environment.
- Haptic gloves, bodysuits, rigs, and other accessories that engage your remaining senses would become accessible. A decent description of what they may look like can be found in “Ready Player One.”
The Future Of VR Applications
There will be a plethora of “virtual experiences” for anything from movies, games, travel, and music performances in terms of applications. Meetings and conferences, private document transfers, and remote work are all examples of productivity applications. In addition, students would learn about history firsthand and travel throughout the world and into space, transforming education.
As we combine virtual and real-world goods, the nature of how we operate may alter. For example, you could dictate a text with your voice and fix it with your stylus glove, all on a virtual letter that appears on your desktop as if it were a real sheet of paper.
More On Full-Dive VR Worlds
The breakthrough is expected in the 2030s when we bypass the optic nerve and implant impulses directly into the brain region that handles sensory data. It may be accomplished using a neural lace like the one Neuralink is developing, nanobot nodes that bond with your neurons, or something else entirely new.
This type of implant would allow you to operate your AR/VR applications with your thoughts, with perfect fidelity between virtual input from the implants and real-world information from your senses. If the integration were flawless, it would not be easy to distinguish between the actual world and the virtual world.
Something like this would undoubtedly revolutionise the world, affecting all areas of our life – the way we experience and interact with technology would forever change.
The advancement of display technology has been a thrilling ride. We only discovered how to meticulously produce analogue film and project it 100 years ago. Every day, it seems, there’s a new technique to create the picture we crave as a visual species.
VR is forging its own path in the world of display technology and (for the time being) is about as close to a one-on-one interaction as the eye and screen can go. What awaits us tomorrow? Nobody knows for sure, but it’ll most likely be bright, sharp, and incredibly lifelike.