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Is 2016 the year of virtual reality?

Judging by the technology coming out of CES 2016 last week, this year looks set to be when we can all embrace virtual reality (VR).

Many, many times, virtual reality has been hailed as the next big trend. But honestly, this year is going to be the one. Really and truly. We think. In any case, we’ve included it in our tech treats of 2016 and have weighed up the pros and cons in the video above.

What’s different about this year?

Mainly, the cost. It’s dropping, with affordable headsets and free apps for smartphones being more available this year than ever before.

The drop in price has made the world of virtual reality bigger, expanding beyond enthusiastic gamers and huge companies to new audiences and consumers. Now, it’s a viable option for creative marketers and small business owners too.

What does it affect?

Like all technology that takes off, virtual reality could affect many areas of your life. Shopping could be streamlined, cutting down on cleaning costs and saving your customers a long trip. Even trying on clothes in store (or at home once you’ve paid and had them delivered) could become a thing of the past.

Trips to that flatpack furniture store to realise you’re missing a screw when you get home could become painless. You’ll still need that screw but at least you’ll know the damn thing looks good once it’s done. Or what if you’re not sure that ridiculously cheap villa in Spain is ‘deluxe’ as it promises to be? Just go and have a look round. These kinds of examples show how doors are opening for small businesses (including estate agents and holiday companies) with the potential to ‘see before you buy’ becoming almost as real as being there yourself.

There’s a learning aspect too. Training staff or career development could be made easier using virtual reality. It’s already happening with the HTC Vive, which allows you to move around a 3D space and interact with environments. Whether you’re an apprentice electrician or a carpenter learning the trade, there’s never been a better way of teaching a large number of students.

We finish our video looking at how you might try it yourself. Pretty much all budgets are now catered for with Google Cardboard right up to Homido VR. Options to involve smartphones, connect to desktops and 360 degree cameras are all ripe for the picking.

With 2016 set to see Microsoft’s HoloLens and HTC’s Vive hit the shelves, this could be the time for virtual reality to become your reality.


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