Potential and future of Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality is now right at the door of every home, ready to enter the lives of each of you. The emergence of augmented and / or virtual reality headsets will allow future users to be completely immersed in fictional worlds. Traditional televisions will gradually give the place, indeed virtual reality will make it possible to enjoy a show in 360° and with stereoscopy as if we were with artists, attend a show as if we were in the public or live a movie along with your hero… And considering the improvement of drones, tomorrow you may visit any tourist site in the world and even beyond the borders of our planet with a VR headset.
Indeed, there is every reason to believe that this change is imminent. Since the purchase of the Oculus company (VR headset) by Facebook for more than $ 2 billion in March 2014 and the release on the consumer market of its Oculus Rift headset, the major stakeholders of the IT industry have all followed this trend : Google acquired Magic Leap for over $ 540 million, HTC has released his headset Vive in March 2016 in partnership with the gaming platform Valve, Sony is preparing to release its VR headset PlayStation VR (formerly Project Morpheus), Samsung offers the Gear VR in partnership with Oculus, and finally Microsoft publishes many videos on the possibilities and applications of its oncoming augmented reality headset Hololens, the latest being the one for the Super Bowl in early February, 2016.
According to an article of digi-capital on the future of virtual reality and augmented reality (digi-capital), the AR / VR market is expected to grow from $3 to $150 billion by 2020. And according to the experts of KZero, the number of players using a headset or another virtual reality accessory would be 200 000 today and over 56 million in 2018!
In the meantime, heavy VR equipment (several million euros) are spreading in industry (PSA, Renault, Dassault, Airbus, Daimler, Audi, Bentley, Ford, Volvo, etc.), a trend confirmed by the acquisition of the RTT company (realistic rendering visualization) by Dassault Systems for €200 million in 2014, through the development of its Virtual Experience offer.
What is missing to Virtual Reality? Technological issues for user comfort
However Virtual Reality products still face key issues, not yet solved since their apparition and able to cause failures in their acceptation by the general public. One can remember the Virtual Boy games console (with HMD) that Nintendo had to remove from market in 1995 due to the headaches it caused. Likewise, the use of CAVE-s, in particular for navigation and driving, causes interaction issues and users’ discomfort (deciders quit after a few minutes while recommending their use).
These headaches, nausea or discomfort are frequently described in technological reviews (Nouvel Obs, Le Monde, this latter reporting dizziness that might long for hours) and widely studied in scientific literature.
Discomforts and headaches experienced when using VR display systems, in particular with helmets, are mainly due to visuo-vestibular conflict when movements are simulated and also to delays between actions and the virtual environment display (mainly display frequency). If this latter can easily by avoided by increasing the calculation system performances, the first type of discomfort is inherent to virtual navigation, as the movements are piloted by a device and not directly by the human body.
What was missing to Virtual Reality until today to address the mainstream market was then:
- An affordable technology in terms of display (resolution, display frequency) and tracking (of head movements)
- Users’ comfort
If the former is now almost fulfilled by the various HMD which are or will be soon on the market, the user’s comfort is still not satisfying.