Future Of Virtual Reality

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In a world of evolving technology and enticing science-fiction plots in films and books, people are under the impression that an alternative world of virtual reality is an overdue promise.

Current examples of how the real world is already starting to blur with virtual reality include creating an online ‘self’ in role-playing games such as World of Warcraft, or even going to the cinema. Here the big screen and surround sound dominate your senses, in an attempt to help you forget reality, and place you into the world being projected in front of you.

We Have Already Come Pretty Far

How much have we achieved? Watch Back to the Future Part II and proceed to laugh because years ago they believed in two years that flying cars would be transporting us around cities. But what has come true from the 1989 sequel? Well, go watch the film. The handheld computers – a prototype of today’s handheld tablets? Video conferencing calls? Well, Skype and FaceTime allow us to chat “face-to-face” for business and pleasure, anytime!

Next, the advertisement for another Jaws sequel in 3D, and without the need for 3D glasses! Now look at your Nintendo 3DS, or perhaps even your 3D television. Finally, the McFly teenagers sitting at the dinner table obsessed with their gadgets – a head-mounted, visor-like piece of equipment that takes the kids away from the kitchen and into a world away from their domestic lives. Something to laugh at? Perhaps not…

How Close Is Our Virtual Reality Future?

The Matrix trilogy is so popular because people are fixated on this idea of being removed from their regular lives and being placed in a world where they can be, well, anything they wanted. In 2012 at the technology and gaming conference, E3, manufacturer Oculus LLC introduced the world to the future of interactive video gaming – the Oculus Rift, developed by Palmer Luckey after he realised that current head-mounted, virtual reality systems lacked the, well… reality that consumers have been looking for.

The system, a head-mounted visor, features a 5.6 inch, LCD screen, providing a 110 degree display that completely dominates the users’ sight, and placing them in the virtual world of the video game. In addition, the speed of the tracking is close to instantaneous, placing your head movements into the game – plunging you deeper into another world. And due to the “off the shelf parts” the system is constructed from, the consumer cost is predicted to be around $300! And the game titles already lined up for its use include Minecraft and the ever popular Doom series.

I can remember being five years old playing on my Super Nintendo and entering World 1-1 on Super Mario Bros. and it seems I may be closer to jumping on the head of Bowser than I first thought. And it’s not just video games, with Xbox 360’s Kinect gear, interactive television is soon to be reality all homes, where voice commands and hand movements will make remote controls redundant. And the use for virtual reality is not just about entertainment and gaming, as medical advancements have progress too. Named the Mindwalker, a mind-controlled exoskeleton has been developed, in which ‘brain-neural-computer interface’ (BNCI) technology allows for the disabled user to just “think” of walking, and the lightweight design will allow for paralysed people to be able to walk again, by bypassing the traumatised spinal cord, and making virtual reality technology a real reality for them, and opening a door into a world that was previously inaccessible.

Where do you think the future of virtual technology is taking us? And what are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Stefan Armitage is currently a radio presenter on his home island of the Isle of Wight who has always been fascinated by the idea of virtual reality technology. He currently writes for Softel.