Virtual Reality - Where is it heading, and what does that mean to us?
If you've been keeping track of PAX East this weekend, you would've noticed the fact that VR is a subject that is mentioned quite often. Whether within one of the panels, at some of the booths, or through some of the demos available, VR has been a hot topic. This is in large part because some serious contenders for the VR market have released -- or are releasing -- their device this year. But what does this mean for the average gamers?
The possibilities of VR
One of the most talked-about topics when it comes to VR, is the potential uses for it; be it full-on gaming, spectating esports and even traditional sports, educational and therapeutic purposes, controlling drones and other vehicles or even something as simple as VR chat, the possibilities are endless! And of course, don't forget VR entertainment, and even porn.
With the hardware largely available to developers now, VR is more about content than it is possibility. As was mentioned in "The Cutting Edge of PC Gaming with Newegg" panel today, what VR really needs right now is that 'killer app' or new content that drives the interest in VR from a want, to a must-have. And if the trend is to continue in its current direction, that is very likely to become a reality relatively soon.
One very interesting implementation of Virtual Reality is seen in Virtual Desktop, an application that allows you to make use of your normal desktop, in a VR setting, and so much more.
Available on Steam for $14.99 (£10.99), this is certainly a great motivator for purchasing a VR headset.
Spectating E-Sports and Sports in general
There are however other amazing possible implications when it comes to VR. With the popularity of e-sports in modern gaming, and with Valve attempting to bring DotA 2 spectator mode to VR, there is a growing likelihood that other forms of e-sports could be viewed in a Virtual Reality setting. In fact, this technology wouldn't even have to be limited to gaming; traditional sports such as Baseball, Basketball and Football could as easily be seen within a VR setting, with immersive content and the possibility to watch a game from the sidelines. While this would likely come at the cost of a pay-per-view model, who wouldn't want the chance to watch a match from just a few feet away, but still be in the comfort of their own home?
VR is already being used by the U.S., and likely other nations', Armed Forces, to train troops and prepare them for real world combat and tactics. While they do make use of their own hardware, there isn't a great deal of technical difference between their tech and that seen in most gaming VR devices. This technology also has likely uses in the piloting of drones and other unmanned aircraft.
Other likely uses for VR
VR could also provide some great opportunities in the field of education; what if instead of explaining a famous battle in history, your teacher took you see it? What if you could see an atom in front of your eyes, at a thousand magnification? Or a star light years away?
The possibilities don't end there however; whether in architecture and real estate, civil engineering, art and design, and really any form of work that requires some kind of outline, VR can be extremely useful, especially when it comes to the small details. Seeing yourself within a building you've designed would be a fantastic way to troubleshoot some of its flaws and improve upon them.
Retinal Resolution; the way into the future
An amazing concept that was discussed within the Newegg sponsored panel was the notion of Retinal Resolution; the resolution and FPS within which your mind would not be able to differentiate between Virtual Reality, and reality. At this resolution - namely 16,000 by 16,000 resolution per retina at 240 Frames Per Second - you would quite literally think what you are seeing from your VR device, is actually real. This could make the technologies seen in movies such as Surrogates and the Matrix a real possibility.
In the end, the potential is endless; VR Skype, VR gaming, VR porn, VR movies, VR exercises, VR therapy, really any activity with the word VR inserted behind it is becoming a possibility. What does this mean to the gaming world however, is something that remains to be seen. If you're interested in buying a VR device, check out our In-depth comparison of upcoming VR Devices: VIVE, PS VR, Oculus Rift, and more. and our first looks at the Steam VR/HTC Vive.
So what are your thoughts on VR? Are you more/less likely to buy one after seeing what's in store for the future? Let us know in the comments section below.