The coming trends in virtual reality are set to revolutionize an already growing industry. The excitement generated by the introduction of VR technology in the late 2000s captured the attention of tens of thousands of early adopters, and several notable innovations have increased public interest in immersive and interactive 360-degree video. Whether you’re talking about true virtual reality or the related technology augmented reality, your options for the coming months and years are growing in depth and complexity.

People Are Learning About It

While VR technology has gotten popular over the last five years or so, it’s still a relatively unknown niche market. Like the first PC users, VR headset owners at this stage are enthusiasts who have been closely following the trends in virtual reality since the technology was developed. As the technology becomes cheaper and more games, movies and other content is adapted to it, the number of users is likely to grow significantly. No one knows if VR will eventually replace traditional computers, but the trend for now is toward more consumer familiarity and access.

Low-Budget Headsets

The first way VR will become more popular is by getting cheaper. Many of the trends in virtual reality have already included cheap headsets that served to introduce the technology to a larger audience. Google created the low-budget headset that can be punched out of a piece of cardboard and folded around a compatible mobile phone. It creates an immersive 360-degree video experience that’s completely different than conventional mobile computing but not quite like true, interactive virtual reality. The trend toward mobile VR is significant, though.

Big-Budget Headsets

Another important trend in virtual reality is the production of high-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and Google Glass. These two devices represent diverging trends in this market: the Rift will appeal to dedicated gamers and technology enthusiasts while Glass will find a market with professionals and other casual users with enough disposable income. As with advances in gaming technology, the VR industry will evolve to include faster video processing, more VRAM and more processor cores for smoother 3-D rendering. These improvements will be driven by demand from largely the same audience of gamers who care more than anyone else about the tech specs of every new game console that’s released.

Interactive Worlds

One of the most significant trends in virtual reality is the move away from immersive 360-degree video toward a fully interactive experience. The first VR headsets were only capable of basic user input events such as camera movements and zooming. The mobile headsets and augmented reality glasses have little or no interactive capabilities aside from the conventional controls included with traditional handsets and mobile devices. The next generation of VR headsets will begin to give users a sense of being plunged into a 3-D world that reacts in real time to their actions.

More Serious Content

All of these trends in virtual reality so far have to do with the hardware, but the software technology is equally important when it comes to computing power and interactivity. Until now, the choices of games and apps for VR devices have been limited. They’ve often been designed as simple demonstrations of a system’s capabilities. The coming software will feature enhanced 3-D technology such as tessellation for more realistic graphics and advanced lighting techniques for a more immersive experience.

While VR is still an emerging technology, the possibilities for what can be done in the near future are exciting. If you’re interested in the current trends in virtual reality, you may want to consider a degree in multimedia art and design or in computer science.

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