How VR Could Be the Future of Travel

Feel like you’re really there

Key Takeaways

  • Facebook is reportedly planning a variety of virtual reality (VR) innovations, including “teleportation.” 
  • By 2030, users will be able to don a pair of smart glasses to “teleport” to locations like offices and other people’s homes, Zuckerberg said. 
  • Recent advances in technology are bringing the idea of teleportation closer to (virtual) reality. 
Person wearing VR headset, holding their palms out toward the camera, various lights shimmering in the foreground
Getty Images / janiecbros

The future of travel and communications may be in virtual reality, experts say. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said that the company is working on a wave of virtual reality (VR) innovations, including “teleportation.” The company hopes the upgrades to VR will arrive by the end of the decade. 

“Having the ability to teleport into a virtual office and work comfortably [and interact] with colleagues will absolutely increase productivity,” Colin Rose, CEO of Objective Reality Studios, a virtual reality software company, said in an email interview. “All of the necessary components are there to make this a reality. All we have to do is catch up with the software.”

Facebook’s Role in the VR Future

According to a report in The Information, Zuckerberg believes that users will be able to don a pair of smart glasses to “teleport” to locations like offices and other people’s homes by 2030. You’ll be able to speak to teleporters as if they’re physically present, allowing in-person meetings to be replaced by virtual reality. 

One upshot of this vision of the future could be a reduction in travel for business or pleasure, which could help alleviate the effects of climate change, according to Zuckerberg. Facebook owns Oculus, of course, which makes a line of popular virtual reality headsets.  

In a recent blog post, Facebook laid out its 10-year vision for the future of virtual reality and augmented reality (AR). The company said that, one day soon, a pair of glasses could replace your computer or smartphone. 

“You’d have the ability to feel physically present with friends and family—no matter where in the world they happened to be—and [you’d have] contextually aware AI to help you navigate the world around you, as well as rich 3D virtual information within arm’s reach,” the company wrote. “Best of all, they’d let you look up and stay present in the world around you rather than pulling your attention away to the periphery in the palm of your hand.”

Smiling person using a VR headset
Getty Images / shironosov

The Future is Now

Recent advances in technology are bringing the idea of teleportation closer to reality. Oculus currently is testing hand tracking, which will help create teleportation, Rose said. He added that better 5G connectivity and ubiquitous high-speed internet allow streaming high-definition 360 videos for real-time VR environments. 

“To have an experience that feels like you are really present with others in a virtual space, we need advancements in rendering full-body images,” Rose said. “Currently, we need the user to stand against a green screen and run the image through editing software, to superimpose them into the image.”

“Anyone who’s used VR knows that it has the ability to immerse you in a way that no other tech can.”

Rose said he believes the technology for teleportation could be ready for consumers within five years. “There will be some challenges to overcome with rendering someone’s full face while they are wearing VR goggles and just some aesthetic things that will add to the realism, he said. “Inevitably, the price will go down on technologies like HoloLens, haptic feedback vests, and omnidirectional treadmills that will immerse you in a way that the average consumer just cannot afford today.”

His company, for example, is building a VR classroom application to “teleport” students back into the classroom. 

“Anyone who’s used VR knows that it has the ability to immerse you in a way that no other tech can,” he said. 

Another use of teleportation could be to help seniors find a home that suits their needs without travelling. First In Promotions, for example, produces VR tours for real estate agents and prospective customers.

“The viewer tours the room at eye level with a 360-degree experience,” Dave Kohl, the company’s marketing director, said in an email interview. “Seniors can walk or use their wheelchair. While wearing the goggles, they can determine whether or not they can reach shelves or tables, negotiate corners and turn from room to room.”

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