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Handheld Technology

2018 will be the year of VR

“2016 will not be the year of VR,” says Henry Stuart, CEO and co-founder of Visualise in response to all the hype surrounding Virtual Reality at this year’s CES.

This is the year more devices will come on the market, he clarifies. In fact numerous headsets are due to hit the shops this spring – but “the year of VR will not come till 2018”.

Visualise is a specialist outfit producing VR content and experiences. Stuart comes from a 360 degree photography background and the majority of the company’s work is currently in the field of marketing and advertising. Yet once VR headsets become more common currency to everyone, these visualisation techniques will be relevant for many more business-orientated purposes.

“Gaming will get these [VR headsets] into households,” explains Stuart. He foresees a more established market in 12 months’ time but it will “only become normal once enough people have headsets”.

One of the issues that has long been levelled against VR is the problem of nausea. This is not down to the hardware, clarifies Stuart the “only thing that can make people nauseous is the content”.

Many advertisers are looking for really extreme, exciting experiences and have to be talked out of them, he adds. This one of the “one of the big dangers for VR” to his mind. It would be quite easy to put people off VR before it has really taken off.

Stuart and his team believe this “strength of feeling” generated by something that is so nearly real can be harnessed to incredible impact without having to provide extreme experiences. This is because a beautifully shot video with binaural sound – which changes depending on your distance to an object, just like life – can be so very powerful that it needs no embellishment.

At the non-consumer end Visualise has already attracted a number of architectural clients interested in selling off-plan designs. This makes sense as the ability to see a building in 3D helps explain what it would feel like to be inside.

Yet there is also considerable potential in training. The chance for medical students to carry out virtual operations, for example, would be a very visceral experience. The immediacy of the situation would make it as stressful as the real thing and doctors could even receive accurate “life and death” analytics on their performance.

“We’d love to be approached,” for something like that, says Stuart.

For the time being we’re a long way from seeing the full potential in VR. But once this becomes common in the consumer space it will inevitably lead to all kinds of innovative professional applications. 

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