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Virtual reality has existed for many years now, as anyone who has set foot in a flight simulator can confirm. However, a new effort to bring virtual reality systems into the home is underway, and some people seem utterly convinced that VR is going to change the world. We are not so sure, hence this week’s We Ask You.

Is This Real Life?!

We want to know, Is Virtual Reality Going To Change The World? We’re particularly keen to hear your feelings about virtual reality in the home, and whether you believe such systems will ever become mainstream. You should also feel free to comment telling us any thoughts you have on virtual reality and its capacity to change the world in any real, practical way.

This question was prompted by the recent coming of age of virtual reality units meant for ordinary consumers. These are VR headsets designed to be worn my people like you and I in the comfort of our own homes.

The Oculus Rift Oculus Rift Development Kit Review and Giveaway Oculus Rift Development Kit Review and Giveaway The Oculus Rift has finally arrived, and is making heads turn (literally) all over the gaming community. No longer are we confined to to peering through a flat window into the gaming worlds we love... Read More has been a labor of love for a team based in California who believe virtual reality can “revolutionize the way people experience interactive content.” After using Kickstarter to raise the funds needed to get the project underway, the company recently began taking pre-orders for the second development kit Project Morpheus Vs. Oculus Rift, Unreal Engine 4, Flappy Bird Returns [Tech News Digest] Project Morpheus Vs. Oculus Rift, Unreal Engine 4, Flappy Bird Returns [Tech News Digest] Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift bring virtual reality back, Unreal Engine 4 debuts, Flappy Bird is returning, Firefox 28 drops Metro, Google Docs phishing, and Mongolia tries to ban swearing on the Web. Read More . And then Facebook acquired Oculus VR Facebook Oculus Rift, HTC One M8, MS-DOS Source Code, IRS Bitcoin [Tech News Digest] Facebook Oculus Rift, HTC One M8, MS-DOS Source Code, IRS Bitcoin [Tech News Digest] Facebook causes an Oculus rift, HTC One blah blah, Microsoft frees MS-DOS, IRS rules on Bitcoin, Disney buys into YouTube, Google launches Photowall, and lots of white guys wear the Oculus Rift. Read More for a cool $2 billion. The ultimate goal is to release a version of the hardware suitable for everybody, and Facebook CEO mark Zuckerberg seems sure this is going to be a big deal.

Elsewhere, Sony used the GDC (Game Developers Conference) to announce its own virtual reality system, currently codenamed Project Morpheus Project Morpheus Vs. Oculus Rift, Unreal Engine 4, Flappy Bird Returns [Tech News Digest] Project Morpheus Vs. Oculus Rift, Unreal Engine 4, Flappy Bird Returns [Tech News Digest] Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift bring virtual reality back, Unreal Engine 4 debuts, Flappy Bird is returning, Firefox 28 drops Metro, Google Docs phishing, and Mongolia tries to ban swearing on the Web. Read More . While Sony’s VR effort is still at an early stage, it is designed to work with the PlayStation 4 The PS4 Revealed: 10 PlayStation 4 Videos All Gamers Should Watch The PS4 Revealed: 10 PlayStation 4 Videos All Gamers Should Watch After months of speculation Sony recently entered the eighth generation of video games hardware, joining Nintendo, which kicked it all off by releasing the Wii U at the end of 2012. The not-very-imaginatively-titled PlayStation 4... Read More , so assuming you believe Sony will deliver, Project Morpheus will be available for purchase by the general public within the next few years.

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While Google, Microsoft, and Apple, to name just three, haven’t announced any plans to release virtual reality systems, it’s safe to assume they’re all exploring the possibility of doing so.

This is all well and good, but there is little evidence that the mainstream public is ever going to be persuaded they either need or want a VR headset, whether for gaming Oculus Rift Will Change Gaming Forever Oculus Rift Will Change Gaming Forever The StarTrek Holodeck - the epitome of a virtual immersive environment - has been a sci-fi dream for far too long now. A week ago, Oculus launched a Kickstarter project for a $300 consumer VR... Read More or anything else. And unless mainstream consumers climb on board the virtual reality bandwagon then how is it ever going to change the world?

Please leave a comment below telling us what your thoughts are on virtual reality. Can you ever see yourself with one of these units strapped to your head? Do you think VR will remain the domain of the uber-geeky or will it cross over into the mainstream to become as ubiquitous in the future as smartphones are now?

Have Your Say

All comments will be read and most will be replied to, before a follow-up post is published containing the We Ask You Results. One reader will win Comment Of The Week, receiving a geeky T-shirt for their effort.

We Ask You is a column dedicated to learning the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

  1. Saikat B
    March 31, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I think every few years or so we see a new "interface". If it was PCs, then next it has been the turn of the Web, and then we saw the coming of mobiles interfaces. VR definitely is the next. But the form and face will only mature with time. The kind of patents companies like Microsoft and Apple apply for hints at the future they have in mind for us. For instance, Microsoft's Holodeck-style “immersive display” got some print an year back. There's this recent one as well.

    Apple has its own set of patents .

  2. KT
    March 27, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    It's going to have to go through a growth cycle, but probably will go mainstream eventually.
    1. Big uses first: theme parks, large venues like concerts and sports and high science applications.
    2. Price point: like all other techs (pcs, hdtvs, vcrs, dvds, etc) mass production needs to be affordable.
    3. A proven fact: people don't like wearing electronic gadgets. That will need to be addressed.
    4. Porn industry support: Don't laugh. VHS beat Beta max, HD recording and POV techniques, modern media distribution both hard copy and digital all were excelled or created by porn. Not to mention, what percent of the entire web is dedicated to porn again?

    • Dave P
      March 31, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      1. This seems highly likely.
      2. I do wonder what price point would be considered mainstream for VR. People happily pay $1000 for a TV.
      3. Great point. If people aren't even keen to wear 3D glasses in their own homes I cannot see VR headsets being an easy sell.
      4. VR porn. I'm in.

  3. dragonmouth
    March 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Virtual reality has existed much longer than since the advent of simulators. VR has existed since the first story was told around the campfire. Books, movies, radio, records, TV, simulators, and now headsets all have been advances in the way VR is delivered.

    Will VR change the world? Have previous forms of VR such as books, movies, radio, TV, etc. changed the world? Definitely! What is only a virtual reality today, will be the actual reality tomorrow.

    • Dave P
      March 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      I've never thought of books or radio as being forms of VR before, but that's certainly one way of thinking about those mediums. If your logic is correct then these headsets are nothing more than the obvious next step in the evolution of home entertainment. One problem I see with that is the solitary nature of the Oculus. Everything to this point has been a social form of entertainment.

    • dragonmouth
      March 31, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      "One problem I see with that is the solitary nature of the Oculus."
      As the nephrologist told his patient suffering from kidney stones "this too shall pass." When the first PCs appeared on the scene, they too were solitary in nature. Then some one invented the Internet. At this point it is a small step to link the headsets to display the same, shared reality. It's only a matter of time (and money).

  4. Jerry C.S.
    March 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Virtual reality has unlimited potential for putting people in otherwise unimaginable places, from the 50-yard line of the Superbowl to battling aliens on a jungle planet in a galaxy far, far away. And let's not forget that video games are already a bigger money-maker than the movies, so the masses are already primed and ready for what's to come. Zuckerberg is a futurist, not a fool. He is seeing, as I do, that within a decade technology will have added the sense of touch to the current virtual senses of sight and hearing, at which point VR will be the biggest money-maker on any planet anywhere. The point is not to evaluate VR as it is presently, but what it has the potential to become . . . and yes, that includes The Matrix.

    • Dave P
      March 31, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      You think this will happen within a decade? That's intriguing, as mainstream adoption doesn't happen overnight.

      What do you think to the argument that Zuckerberg is just hedging his bets? In fact, there's one train of thought which suggests he just has too much money in the bank and is enjoying buying things he enjoys.

  5. Hildy J
    March 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    VR will enhance, not change, various experiences. Given unlimited bandwidth, not just video games but even television might offer an immersive experience. Similarly, VR calls could be a step up from video calls. But this doesn't change the world, it just enhances it.

    Augmented reality, on the other hand, can change things. With Glass or other devices that can overlay actual reality with you have the capability get outside the box. Rather than train people in how to do things, it can show people how to do them. Think of Ikea furniture coming with an AR program which outlines in red the next pieces you need to put together. Instead of navigating using a map with arrows, the arrows can be overlaid on your vision. The possibilities seem far greater, to me, than VR.

    • Dave P
      March 31, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      I somewhat agree. I can certainly see mainstream users taking to augmented reality much easier than they will take to VR.

  6. Tom W
    March 27, 2014 at 2:21 am

    I certainly think that there's real-world applications for VR, and I also believe that the mainstream can be persuaded to use it.

    First of all, the practical stuff. Any job that requires extensive training will benefit from better VR. Being able to simulate situations in a more realistic way will aid in training and memory, lessen the effect of "stage fright" when they make the switch from training to real life, and enable simulations to provide them with the maximum amount of detail. The number of careers that would benefit is too many to mention, but just a few are architects, surgeons, pilots, fighter pilots, and astronauts.

    Now, on to the home users. Will they buy it in the current state? No. It's too expensive, it doesn't have enough uses, it's uncomfortable, and it looks stupid. VR right now is like the first computers. They are great for very specific purposes, and are used by people who are happy to put up with their shortfalls.
    In the future though, that's a whole other story. The hardware will fall in price, the design and weight will be massively improved, and the nausea will be solved (for most people). Eventually, a VR headset will be like a printer. Not used ever day, but quick / easy to turn on and start using when required. There will also be specific uses for home users, like designing objects for 3D printers, communication with far-away friends and relatives, online dating, instructional videos, and (of course) gaming.

    • Dave P
      March 31, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      If your computer analogy is correct then VR should evolve quickly and be changing the world with 10 to 20 years.

      Are you interested in owning one right now or are you not yet bothered?

    • Tom W
      March 31, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      I own the Rift DK1, but I have very little time for gaming at the moment so I haven't used it as much as I would have liked. If I was going to buy the DK2 or Consumer Edition, I would make sure to set aside a certain amount of time a week to use it.

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