Reaching the mainstream consciousness with the launch of the Oculus Rift in 2016, virtual reality technology has come a long way in a short time. It’s still far from taking over, with many users reticent to engage with the complexities that many VR systems represent. Recent developments could illustrate the biggest change in the 2020s, however, as part of a changing technological environment where VR is part of a new normal.
A Changing Age
As more mobile systems and user-friendly designs continue to drive VR systems forward, so does the technological interest of today's young adults. Also called a person’s technological age in this quiz by ExpressVPN, the general idea is that newer generations are more comfortable with newer technology. That usually manifests as an interest in social media, but it also applies to device hardware and a willingness to experiment.
Emphasis on a new age of simple software is also being illustrated by significant investment by social media lead Meta. Mixed-News reports that Meta is investing more than $10B annually in its AR and VR division with the belief that the system's dominance in wide adoption is a matter of when and not if.
New Generation Systems
Covered by tech and gaming websites like RockPaperShotgun, the new generation of VR headsets is best illustrated by devices like the HTC Vive XR Elite. A premium device, this headset offers 1920x1920 pixels per eye, a 110-degree field of view, and a 90 Hz refresh rate, all of which are among the best in class. More important is the weight and mobility of this system, which is far disconnected from traditional systems that are necessarily bound to a computer.
While newer systems like XR Elite can connect to computers for more demanding applications, they also incorporate increasingly powerful onboard processors and batteries. By eliminating the need to be connected to a base station, the usability of VR and AR increases drastically, paving the way for a new era of adoption.
For casual users, a new generation of mobile VR and AR could be best suited to social media applications. Spending time with friends and family could see huge leaps forward with the tech, like digitally projecting people into your own home. Going further, later iterations of mobile headsets could also lead to a new generation of sports and entertainment.
With a small, secure, and mobile headset, it would be possible to invent and play physical sports where the equipment and effects are entirely digital. Think laser tag on a new level, playing with people running around real standardized environments hundreds of kilometers away. The potential is endless, and it’s only starting to be explored now.
While cutting-edge VR systems are still at a premium price, advancements in production will drive down costs, and as the technology becomes more popular, people will be more willing to invest. Spending €1,000 on a headset might be steep, but that's already less than a flagship iPhone, which many people see as a yearly purchase. XRToday notes VR with a CAGR of 31.4% between 2021-2028, so it will be some time before the technology sees household adoption. The same was once said about mobile phones and personal computers, so expectations among tech analysts are still high.