BLOG: Virtual Reality Going Mainstream


Experiential Insights with Stu, INITION Co-founder

In this week’s blog we ponder ‘when’ virtual reality might go mainstream.

So, the biggest question around virtual reality, for me, is ‘when’?

It’s pretty obvious we, the human species, hanker after ever-more compelling, immersive experiences. Our never ending thirst for more immersive media and technology seems insatiable and is arguably what is driving the millions of  dollars being invested in VR development at the moment; it seems almost daily that some new head-mounted display, sensory-engaging peripheral or highly inventive content is announced.

However, every VR rig I have ever tried (and I’ve tried most) has left me feeling a little uneasy afterward. This ranges from a mild sense that something’s amiss to the downright “get this thing off my head, NOW!”

The current consensus surrounding this phenomenon is that it’s merely a symptom of the current hardware, combined with our current collective learning of how better to create the right type of content.  This is probably true, despite the fundamental issue of simulator sickness; the mismatch between what your eyes are seeing and what our other senses, especially the ears, are telling the brain is often at the root of the problem.

However, I am optimistic, being the inventive lot we are, that we will gradually overcome these obstacles. Shorter length experiences, inventive ways to teleport rather than ‘fly’ through the VR space, lower latency, better optics, etc, etc are all helping. The question is when?

Does our current infatuation with VR possess enough momentum to carry us through until the point where we solve the issue? Until we can create a VR experience that we can enjoy without taking the headset off and feeling, even temporarily, like, ‘whoa, that was great but the last thing I want to do is put it on again, at least until the room stops spinning’, I worry that we will only want to experience it as a novelty and not as a long term, more permanently innovative way of consuming media, as the current rhetoric suggests.

So, how many generations of development and product refinement will we need to reach the tipping point? The point where we’ll be able to spend an hour in VR and not need time to recover? Will the industry interest remain strong enough to see us through, or will we need to ride another cycle of the hype curve roller-coaster before VR finally comes of age?

Stuart Cupit – INITION Co-founder and Executive Producer.

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