Is virtual reality just a fad?

Here at the Flourish Headquarters, we’re fortunate enough to work alongside Samsung, which means that we occasionally get to play around with some of their latest tech. Recently we got our hands on Samsung’s virtual reality headset: the Gear VR. After being immersed in a virtual world, we asked ourselves – is VR just a craze, or is it here to stay?

VR is still only in its primitive stages, and it’s already brilliant. With electronics companies all releasing their own headsets, it’s becoming more and more accessible to the general public. Sony’s VR headset for the PlayStation4 will inevitably take gaming to the next level.

But it’s not just for gaming; VR can be used for a whole number of things. Imagine watching a sporting event or a music gig that makes you feel as if you’re actually there. Well, VR ticket sales are slowly becoming a reality. Coachella Festival have an official VR app, where you can immerse yourself in the experience by watching live acts in 360º, and watch festival goers’ self-generated VR experiences.

With more and more 360° cameras becoming widely available, social media platforms will soon change as more people start sharing their own 360° content. You can step inside your friends’ home videos and view it as if you were there. And with Facebook announcing their new VR functionality, you’ll be able to chat to your friends in real time, in whatever environment you choose.

On a more practical note it’s already being used for training purposes, where users can be put into realistic, virtual situations without any real consequences. The UK Armed Forces have developed ‘Chinook’, a first aid training simulator that puts medics in the thick of it, tasked with saving a virtual life, while in the middle of a warzone.

Another thing we’d love to see become reality is 360° films. Traditional filmmakers may argue that people will struggle to follow a narrative (and they may well be right) but let video games lead by example. Games give players visual and audio clues to suggest where to focus their attention. This means that you could potentially watch the same film three or four times, discovering something new each time, a la immersive theatre. There are already a few music videos that have adopted 360º filming, so feature-lengths should soon follow.

Finally, Amazon has dropped a few hints of an online VR shopping experience, to enhance browsing. You’ll probably be able to virtually hold the items, look at them from all angles and see reviews at a glance.

The possibilities are endless… and for that reason we believe VR is here to stay.