We’ve talked a lot about what the future of virtual reality could bring.
Let’s look more closely at some exciting virtual reality experiences to look forward to in the very near future, from “free-roam” virtual reality to virtual shopping, and attending a wedding in virtual reality.
Virtual Reality In The Very Near Future
#1 Public Space Virtual Reality/Location Based Entertainment (LBE)
Though virtual reality headsets are gaining in popularity and falling in price, they don’t entirely give the full virtual reality experience that is possible.
More immersive virtual experiences which use the surrounding environment and additional sensors, or other devices like virtual reality gloves, just aren’t possible in our homes right now.
Large-scale experiences such as “free-roam VR” are about to appear in our malls and shopping centres.
IMAX opened its first Experience Centre at the Grove, an up-market mall in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles early in 2017. It’s expected these “free-roam VR”, room-based, or multiplayer virtual experiences will become widely available in the next 12-18 months.
IMAX Experience Centre’s
The IMAX Experience Centre in Los Angeles used an advanced Starbreeze headset and experiences created for the HTC Vive, room-scale, VR system. By February 14th the Los Angeles centre had had 5,000 visitors experiencing everything from Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, to the John Wick Chronicles.
HTC Vive, working with IMAX, is planning to open 5,000 VRcades, starting with 1,000 Viveland VRcades in China.
HTC Vive President, Rikard Steiber, compared virtual reality development to that of the internet, where due to low accessibility for the masses, internet café’s became popular with those wanting to try the new technology.
IMAX has also invested $50 million in developing interactive virtual reality content.
Another big name in large-scale virtual reality, AMC Entertainment, are also developing room-scale virtual reality experiences for the mass market.
AMC Entertainment and Dreamscape Immersive are planning to bring virtual reality centres to the US and UK over the next 18 months, either using existing movie theatres or new facilities. The awaited AMC and Dreamscape flagship centre is due to open in Los Angeles early in 2018.
#2 Virtual Reality Vans
San Francisco based Exit Reality has a fleet of panel vans, food truck style vehicles, which will bring mobile virtual reality room experiences to your public or private event.
They are not the first; it’s a concept that is likely to catch on quickly around the globe.
#3 Virtual Reality Amusement Arcades
Virtual reality has been more prevalent than we often realise. Gaming brands like Sega have been providing booth style, or immersive gaming, in amusement centres all over the world for decades.
Virtual reality experiences to look forward to in the future, are only set to include more of this type of gaming and more virtual reality entertainment.
Again, not necessarily in our homes, theme parks, events and amusement arcades may be where we get our most immersive virtual reality experiences for some time.
#4 Virtual Reality Theme Parks
Another free-roam virtual reality experience available today in Pennsylvania is Zero Latency VR at the Kalahari resort.
They offer two immersive VR experiences “Survival” and “Engineerium”, where players pay $25 each for a 15-minute experience using backpack PCs and virtual reality headsets. Six-players can play together as avatars to shoot zombies in “Survival”.
“People who experience VR as a group have the highest satisfaction…seeing your friend as an avatar is a profound experience.”
– Tim Ruse, CEO of Zero Latency
In Engineerium you can jump on floating platforms, feel like you are walking upside down, and hunt for items through Aztec temples.
Free roam virtual reality is definitely the next virtual reality experience to try, and it’s only going to get better.
#5 Attending a Wedding, Virtually
We’ve talked a little about attending sports fixtures and music concerts in virtual reality.
What about attending a wedding across the globe using virtual reality? Or, attending a wedding where grandma, who can’t physically get the wedding, is enjoying every second as it happens with her virtual reality headset.
This is one example of a more personal application of virtual reality and a future virtual reality experience that could actually happen soon!
#6 Virtual Reality Shopping
It won’t be long before retail brands begin using virtual reality to increase sales. A few names have taken steps already.
There are applications out there now, where you can shop, try on fashions and styles using your avatar, and explore the latest fashion trends.
You can already design your own IKEA kitchen using their virtual reality application in HTC Vive.
Amazon has introduced virtual reality to some of their categories via an application, though akin to augmented reality, you can see what a new piece of furniture looks like in your living room before you buy.
Shop for Your Next Car in VR
The automotive industry will likely be an early adopter of virtual reality shopping technologies.
As vehicles are significant investments for many, it will pay for auto-makers to produce virtual tours and test drives of their cars.
Allowing customers to get comfortable in their potential new car, before visiting a showroom to make their purchase.
Mastercard and crystal maker Swarovski just launched a virtual reality app which lets you view their home décor range in virtual reality and use a MasterPass account to make an immediate purchase.
The Atelier Swarovski Virtual Showroom is available for iOS and Android.
By moving your head left and right, up and down, you can learn more about each piece in a virtual home, and watch videos about the craftsmanship.
Using MasterPass, users can purchase without entering payment details, and the app will log them out the minute they leave the app and virtual reality.
Though not amazing, unless you are a Swarovski fan, the application is an example of how virtual reality shopping could work.
It also shows how easy retailers will make it for you to purchase within virtual reality.
#7 The Future of Getting Dressed
It’s more augmented reality as opposed to virtual reality right now, but “near real” reality can help you to get dressed.
Amazon released the Echo Look this year, which will take photos of you in two different outfits.
Using machine learning and human opinion it gives its advice on which is best and suggests other products.
Designed, of course, to sell more products, its apparently hit and miss, but does indicate what the future of augmented virtual reality could bring to fashion and shopping.
On related technology, developers are also working on programmable, or smart fabrics, including backpacks and shirts which can show sports stats during a match.
What Other Future VR Experiences Can We Look Forward?
The applications for virtual reality are endless. What we can do in real life is likely to be replicated in virtual reality in one way or another.
How successful these applications and experiences are, will depend on how close to reality developers can make them.
And if you’re interested in the future of VR, make sure to check our predictions on how far virtual reality can go.