16 Experts Predict the Future of Virtual Reality

mark zuckerberg virtual reality

May 24, 2016 • Product Success

Remember this picture from a VR conference which Mark Zuckerberg shared, and it went viral?

Some said the photo was creepy, like a glimpse into a dystopian future where people are cut off from the real world, opting instead to spend their time in VR.

Here’s what Mark had to say when people doubted the future of Virtual Reality:

I think people tend to be worried about every new technology that comes along. Critics worry that if we spend time paying attention to that new kind of media or technology instead of talking to each other that that is somehow isolating. But humans are fundamentally social. So I think in reality, if a technology doesn’t actually help us socially understand each other better, it isn’t going to catch on and succeed.

You could probably go all the way back to the first books. I bet people said ‘why should you read when you could talk to other people?’ The point of reading is that you get to deeply immerse yourself in a person’s perspective. Right? Same thing with newspapers or phones or TVs. Soon it will be VR, I bet.

So, is Virtual Reality a “platform of tomorrow”?

It is certainly a new communication platform and here’s some data to prove that VR is hotter than ever:

Virtual reality trends 2017Source: Statista

We sincerely believe that the hottest topic for technology to discuss these days is ‘Virtual Reality’. So, we reached out to some VR experts and asked them their opinions about the future of VR.

Here are the two questions we asked these VR experts:

1) What does VR look like in 2016?

2) What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

Without further ado, here are 14 VR experts on the future of VR:

#1 It is an exciting time of discovery

robert scoble on virtual reality

Robert Scoble, @Scobleizer, blogger, technical evangelist, and author

VR is at its beginning in 2016. We are just getting our first headsets. Watching our first movies. Trying out our first video games. It is an exciting time of discovery.

#2 Virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies are on pace to be a $150 billion market by 2020

virtual reality experience

Michael D. Gallagher, @ESAGovAffairs, President and CEO, Entertainment Software Association (ESA)

We’re on the precipice of widespread adoption of one of the most engaging, fun, and truly groundbreaking innovations of the last two decades.

Virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies are drawing millions of dollars in investments, and are on pace to be a $150 billion market by 2020. Moreover, these immersive technologies are poised to transform entertainment and to dramatically influence industries as diverse as healthcare, tourism, sports, education and manufacturing. In fact, NASA is using the technologies to train astronauts and to share a walk on Mars.

When your technology is headed to space, and bringing space to our class rooms and living rooms, you know it’s something big.

#3 Virtual Reality in 2016 is the story of humanity mastering our senses

virtual headsets

Foo Conner, @iwasaround, Social Media Entrepreneur, CEO at Jekko

What does VR look like in 2016?

Virtual Reality in 2016 is the story of humanity mastering our senses. Editing, scope, and sound, everything in story telling is new again. It’s a revolutionary leap like radio to television. It takes time to master these new tools. We’re collectively sharpening our skills laying down the groundwork for tomorrow’s VR Masterpieces.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

Imagine being in the pit of your local symphony. Virtual Reality places you there. Not mono, not stereo, but hundreds of movable points of sound. Want to hear that violin? Move closer. Companies like Harmon Audio are working with VR developers making it sound as good as it looks. The experiences being developed today give surround sound a new meaning and it’s music to my ears.

#4 We’re still waiting for the killer app that is going to drive VR engagement on a daily basis

voices of VR

Kent Bye, @kentbye, Host of Voices of VR Podcast

What does VR look like in 2016?

The consensus that I hear from a lot of VR analysts is that VR will still be gathering a lot of momentum in 2016 with early adopters in gaming and entertainment, but VR won’t really start to cross the chasm into the mainstream until 2017. To me, virtual reality is like the Gutenberg Press of the 21st Century because it’s a new medium that captures human experience in a new way, but we still don’t have the equivalent of the 1454 Gutenberg Bible, which was an inflection point of adoption. We’re still waiting for the killer app that is going to drive VR engagement on a daily basis beyond gamers and enthusiasts, and right now social VR is the mostly likely use case to do that since it could connect to your friends and family in a new way. Right now our culture is just at the very beginning of shift from the Information Age to the Experiential Age where our attention will be primarily focused on experiencing visceral emotions rather than consuming vast data streams of information.
Snapchat as the fastest growing social media platform is one early indication of this shift, and virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality experiences will be helping to drive this new Renaissance where technology more accurately reflects and amplifies the full breadth and complexity of the human experience.
What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?
I’ve asked over 400 virtual reality pioneers on the Voices of VR podcast what they think that the ultimate potential of virtual reality is, and I’ve found that their answers can be categorized into one of twelve different categories.
kent voices of VR
Ultimately Virtual Reality is going to impact every dimension of our lives, and so I’ve started to think about the VR landscape in terms of these different domains of human experience.
VR has the potential to more fully express and explore the full complexity of the human experience, usher us from the Information Age to the Experiential Age, and catalyze a new renaissance that unlocks the latent potentials of our creativity and imagination.

#5 Consumers will finally get a peek at the extraordinary promise of this powerful medium

the future of virtual reality

Nonny de la Pena, @ImmersiveJourno, Founder of Emblematic Group, aka ‘Godmother of Virtual Reality’

What does VR look like in 2016?

While the purchase of Oculus Rift set off a chain reaction of explosive activity in the virtual reality world, 2016 is the year in which consumers will finally get a peek at the extraordinary promise of this powerful medium.

Access to headsets like the Vive, which tap into Valve’s massive Steam community (the headsets sold out shortly after going on sale this month), and the penetration of the Playstation, portending mass adoption of Sony’s Morpheus in the fall, means that the energy, which up until now has been limited to events, conventions or press hype, will suddenly spread and morph into something real.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

Because VR offers the audience the sensation of “being there,” it creates a visceral connection to the events unfolding in front of the viewer.

This whole body connection can generate a sense of empathy because viewers feel the action as if they are actually on scene. By standing in a street Syria when a bomb goes off, you comprehend the plight of Syrian refugees. By standing next to two sisters as they unsuccessfully attempt to protect a third sister from an ex-boyfriend’s fatal attack, you understand the true horror of domestic violence and guns.

By watching the brutal beating of a handcuffed immigrant with your own eyes, you question border patrol Use of Force protocols. This type unprecedented access will continue to be utilized for important stories alongside entertainment experiences.

#6 VR won’t supplant all traditional education methods but it will augment them, just like the internet did

will mason, uploadVR

Will Mason, @WBMason, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, UploadVR

What does VR look like in 2016?

VR in 2016 is at the beginning stages. The motion picture camera was invented years before Hollywood became the place we know it to be, that is where we are with VR. We have hardware that works and works well, and is cheap enough that it can make it into homes – now we need more compelling content to give it a reason to stay there. Content on a new medium is shaped by the medium itself, just as McLuhan said “the medium is the message.” The killer apps and stories are coming – we just need to finish learning the language.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

There are a number of big ones, education and social are two really big ones. VR provides a visceral way to engage with information, providing novel and unique ways to explore data and learn new things. It won’t supplant all traditional education methods but it will augment them, just like the internet did. For social it is about three letters NVC, non verbal communication. Approximately 92% of our communication is non-verbal, all or most of which is lost in online communication, but as we all know there are many benefits to communication without physical boundaries. VR allows for the benefits of face to face communication – things like physical collaboration and emotional expressiveness – to be combined with the benefits of not having to share the same physical space. AR and VR are the logical evolution of global communications.

#7 Virtual Reality isn’t a new technology, but accessibility to both devices and tools sets 2016 apart

Virtual reality in 2016

Liv Erickson, @misslivirose, Virtual and Augmented Reality Developer and Evangelist at Microsoft. Creator and host of Just A/VR Show

Virtual Reality, at it’s core, isn’t a new idea or technology – iterations of the platforms have been around since the 1950’s. VR has come in and out of popularity over the past few decades, but what sets 2016 apart is how accessible both devices and tools are for creators. 2016 is the first year where there have been a variety of virtual reality systems available for anyone to purchase, and the options for experiencing immersive content are growing almost daily. There is variety- you can spend $2000 for a desktop and a Rift or a Vive, or you can pick up a $10 Cardboard headset and use your phone – and there are multiple options throughout that entire spectrum.

For developers and content creators, the tools to get started with building VR applications are widely available and, oftentimes, free, making it easier than ever to get started with building immersive applications. Facebook and YouTube support 360 degree videos. You can buy VR apps for your smartphone on app stores. Even our browsers are beginning to support virtual reality websites – it’s an entirely new era for VR, and it’s just starting.
Even in it’s youth, today’s VR ecosystem is already changing the way we interact with technology. We’re starting to see advances in healthcare that fundamentally impact how we use technology to solve problems. A surgeon saved a baby’s life using a Cardboard headset and a smartphone, and multiple startups and research institutions are investigating VR for phobia treatment and other therapies to help people deal with fears and traumatic experiences.

How we think about technology in education is also changing with VR – when you’re able to be fully present in a different world, seeing foreign countries, outer space, or the depths of the ocean from your own perspective as if you were there, it becomes clear just how powerful of a tool virtual reality is for teaching. And that’s just the beginning – we’re going to see VR shape industries over the next few years in ways we haven’t even thought about yet – it’s an incredible time to be a part of it all.

#8 VR is like the first iPhone – a small number of people are extremely excited about it, but it’s true power still hasn’t been created

best VR experts

Jesse Joudrey, @JesseJoudreyChief Executive Officer at VRChat

What does VR look like in 2016?

In 2016 VR has barely begun to affect the world. It’s like the first iPhone. There are a small number of people that are extremely excited about it, but it’s true power (for the iPhone it was the app store) still hasn’t been created. More innovation will be required before VR becomes the huge success that it can be. But already we’re seeing the potential to be influential in every industry including education, transportation, architecture, medicine and a number of entertainment industries.

Even this year we see momentum in these industries and it’s no longer a question of whether VR will change them, but how much change it will create.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

A lot of people felt that since gamers were likely to be the first people to experience VR that gaming would be the largest segment of VR consumption, but so far other experiences are proving most compelling. There is a lot of interest in immersive photos and videos that allow someone to feel as if they’ve traveled somewhere else on earth. Business is using VR for visualizing places and things that have yet to be built. I think the most important space however, is that of Social VR.

When you share an online VR space with other people, like you do in VRChat, it’s a more immersive communication medium than any phone or monitor screen can provide.

Besides talking, you can move around, gesture with your hands, go bowling, hang out, dance, sing karaoke, etc. Besides mere communication, VR allows play. This is an important part of socializing that has never been communicated before.

#9 Early adopters are exploring new worlds while the rest of the world looks on in envy, waiting for the price to come down

virtual reality in 2017

Paul Bettner, @paulbettner, CEO, Founder at Playful Corp

What does VR look like in 2016?

It looks like science fiction come to life. The creation of entirely new art forms we don’t even have names for yet. Early adopters as pioneers, exploring new worlds from the comfort of their own living rooms while the rest of the world looks on in envy, waiting for the price to come down.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

Social, connected experiences will emerge as the most impactful VR application. When you can share space with another person no matter where they are, collaborate together, laugh together – it becomes the most valuable form of digital communication. You can be whomever you want to be, in a virtual environment of your choosing. The social uses for VR that emerge over the next few years will be VR’s true killer app.

#10 VR brings a completely new way to experience, interact, and play with your friends, and we’ve only just scratched the surface

Todd Hooper CEO at VREAL

Todd Hooper, @toddhooper, CEO at VREAL

What does VR look like in 2016?

2016 is the year of new VR experiences. Content creators are figuring out what’s fun and entertaining in VR, past the initial novelty of the technology. At the same time, early adopters are getting their headsets, trying this amazing new content and evangelizing VR with first-hand experiences and word of mouth. It’s a great combination for exponential growth in the market.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

VR brings a completely new way to experience, interact, and play with your friends, and we’ve only just scratched the surface. We have played games online for years, but now we are in a shared virtual space with our friends.  This redefines what social interaction means and has a lot of implications for how gamers play, watch and stream VR games, and how games are designed and created by studios.

#11 VR will live or die by the quality of the stories that it tells

how to build VR apps

Rob Morgan, @AboutThisLater, Game Writer, gamestory.co.uk

What does VR look like in 2016?

I think 2016 will be the year we start seeing narratives that feel fully VR-native. For me VR will live or die by the quality of the stories that it tells. In VR, good storytelling isn’t just a quality issue – it’s an immersion issue. VR players feel radically present in the scene in a way they don’t in flatscreen games. But if in VR you’re embodying a character who isn’t interesting, or whose motivations and actions aren’t logical or compelling, then that’s as bad as a visual glitch- it pops the player out of immersion.
We will always be able to attract players to the technology with visually spectacular tech demos, but to get out of the early-adopter basement we need to answer the promise of immersive narrative.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

Along with the huge potential for medicine, engineering, education – personally I’m interested in the artistic possibilities. What’s most exciting for me about VR is not just what you’re seeing, but who you’re being. VR has the capacity to let you embody another person or thing, to literally put you in their shoes, in a way none of our media has before. I think we’re going to start seeing VR art pieces, films and games that really challenge audiences and make people think differently. That’s one way of changing the world.

#12 New York Times and Wall Street Journal are great examples of real world VR apps enagaging viewers into empathetic moments that are news driven

Virtual reality apps

Richard Broo, @rcbroo, Founder & CEO at Wemersive

What does VR look like in 2016?

We expect VR to accelerate in uptake by the media outlets and become more of staple form of media. Users in turn will also adopt VR as a form of media they will interact with on a regular basis. This will be fueled by quality content creation and regular content pushes to the users. We are seeing a mass adoption of mobile VR apps with Cardboard Headsets as well as mass orders of Head Mounted displays (HMD’s). HMD orders have exceeded expectations so far with some suppliers running out of parts (such as Oculus Rift) and others halting orders (such as HTC Vive) to keep up with demands.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

I think a great area of VR impacting the world is it’s use in Journalism and Documentary storytelling. A great case illustrating the importance of this would be the recent acquisition of RYOT News by Huffington Post. It shows there is a strong need for quality VR Journalism production skills.

Other news outlets such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are great examples of real world applications of VR and using to engage viewers into empathetic moments that are news driven.

In the past we have used VR to compel viewers to take action for social good. A good use case would be the TDH VR experience in which we sponsored Terre Des Hommes (NGO) with mobile apps (iOS & Android) to tell the story of girl in slave like conditions to compel users to take action against child slavery.

#13 VR evangelizers have done a nice job at putting VR into the limelight as an important storytelling medium

virtual reality trends

Devon Dolan, @devonhdolanAssociate at Cinetic Media

What does VR look like in 2016?

Aside from the aesthetics of virtual reality, the VR evangelizers have done a nice job at putting VR into the limelight as an important storytelling medium. The state of the industry is still in its developmental stages, but the VR community is looking at Sony to open the floodgates to the masses when they release their headset in October, which I believe will transform the playing field because they have a massive built in audience across the PlayStation Network.

I’m curious to know how people outside of the major domestic media and tech markets (SF, LA, NYC) are adopting and implementing VR into their daily lives.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

I’m more focused on the media and entertainment implications of VR, which has proven meaning and value to the world in creating human connection to stories they would otherwise not have experienced.

On the other hand, I’m very excited to see how VR consumption in a social setting, with an emphasis on education and healthcare, will pave the way for new methodologies that will truly change the world in a positive manner.

#14 Use cases of VR that will change the world fall into three major categories: health, communication, and education

Virtual reality experts

James Blaha, @jamesblahaCEO, Founder at Vivid Vision

What does VR look like in 2016?

I think we’ve already seen some amazing things in VR this year, but this is not the year it hits the main stream. I think for this year most people will be making entertainment for the Rift, Vive, and GearVR. Larger game studios and Hollywood are busy making content, but I don’t think we will see much of that content until next year. We will also see products that provide enough value to justify the high price tag in areas like medicine and telepresence.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

I think the use cases of VR that will change the world fall into three major categories: health, communication, and education.

For health, VR is a powerful tool for controlling the visual and auditory input to the brain. Eye tracking, gesture tracking, and biosensors allow us to measure the brain and bodies response to stimulus, giving us a powerful tool to investigate and alter the functioning of the body for the better. We are drastically reducing the cost, and increasing the availability of vision testing and treatment. I think we will see similar reductions in cost for psychiatric care, pain management, and personal fitness to name a few.

For communication, VR is a powerful tool to stimulate empathy. For journalism, storytelling, politics, and social interactions it will change how we learn about what is going on in the world and how we personally connect with other people.

For education, VR provides a way to teach complex concepts visually. Students can play with molecules at microscopic scale, visit historical places as they read about them, and personally explore the universe.

#15 Next year will see many advancements in the mobile VR space with Google and HTC both working on solutions

who are the VR experts

Brian Bullard, @bullardo, CEO of FoundryVR Inc,co-host of podvr.com podcast

What does VR look like in 2016?

The next year will see many advancements in the mobile VR space with Google and HTC both working on solutions. Consumer virtual reality will continue to grow as a market with the addition of the Sony PSVR launch in November.
I also expect to see some game-changing augmented reality technologies to hit the scene this year.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that’s changing the world?

Workplace training and simulation: One recent example was a doctor had taken 3D scans of a baby’s heart, examined it with a virtual reality head sets and later saved the baby’s life with the information gathered.

Quality of life for disabled: VR could provide the disabled or those otherwise unable to do normal activities, an outlet a way to experience that which able-bodied persons take for granted. I have seen this first hand and it is an amazing gift never before possible.

#16 VR looks ready. It has already been adopted by over 1 million people

how does virtual reality looks like

Matt Stompz Carrell, a USAF combat veteran, co-host of podvr.com podcast

What does VR look like in 2016?

VR looks ready. It has already been adopted by over 1 million people. Private, immersive entertainment is the main draw, but there’s a strong undercurrent of social VR experiences dragging users into online VR communities via telepresence.

What are the most popular use cases emerging for VR that¹s changing the world?

Healthcare and education- VR is curing lazy eye (vivid vision), desensitizing vets with ptsd (firsthand), and creating engaging and interactive VR physical therapy. VR education can present course material like no textbook or video ever could. You can shrink students down to the cellular level or grow them to the size of the universe. With VR you can give children their own Magic School Bus education.

Are you looking to build your virtual reality business? Get in touch and see if we can help!

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