VR’s Future Goes Beyond Gaming

Content is king, even in VR

Key Takeaways

  • Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, thinks the future of VR is still at least a few years off.
  • Some experts believe that the future of VR is too broad to clearly define and put on a timeline.
  • Ultimately, the future of VR’s success comes down to creating enough content and demand for the tech.
Man Gesturing While Wearing Very Glasses Against Black Background
Andrea Obzerova / EyeEm / Getty Images

Jim Ryan, the CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, recently stated that the future of VR is "more than a few minutes" away in a recent interview with The Washington Post, but not everyone agrees with him.

Virtual reality—like any new tech idea—has seen quite a few renditions over the years. From the early consumer versions like the Nintendo Virtual Boy to the more advanced head-mounted displays of the last decade, virtual reality has advanced quite a bit. For some, though, it has never hit the "mainstream" of consumer tech, instead falling into one of the many niche areas of the gaming and entertainment world. Other experts in the field feel that it’s already here. It just depends on how you define it.

"What does ‘the future of VR’ mean, exactly," Cortney Harding, founder and CEO of Friends With Holograms, wrote via email. "If you define it as a headset in every household, sure, that'll take a while. But technology doesn't have to reach that penetration to be useful and relevant. After all, there are still a decent number of people who don't own a personal computer or a smartphone, but we'd never say that those were 'a few minutes from the future.'"

The Future Is What You Make It

For some, the future of VR is already here, enabling companies and people to embrace the current world within virtual reality applications.

"There are lots of real, practical use cases for VR right now, and demand continues to grow," Harding wrote in our email interview. Harding’s company builds VR clients for several companies like Walmart, Verizon, and Coke, all designed to help train new workers using virtual environments.

It’s this educational and training area of the industry that Harding believes will help pave the way to a more mainstream audience, and ultimately allow for more headsets to make their way into people’s homes.

Businessman with Virtual Reality Glasses and boxing gloves in the office
Westend61 / Getty Images

Despite the successes that headsets like PlayStation VR have seen (over 5 million units sold, according to Ryan), Harding still believes that training and work-related apps are where the industry will really find its stride.

"The immersive nature of VR is unlike anything we’ve ever seen," said Harding. "When you put on a headset, you are in the action, whether that is as a gamer or whether you are learning or communicating with someone." Harding thinks more companies should pour money into the technology, creating content and thus pushing for more investments to be made by both the content creators and the users.

Building a Brighter VR Future

Harding believes that all we need to see more headsets in the world is a reason to use them. As new designs come out, VR devices become lighter, faster, and even cheaper, which could also make them even more accessible. The cherry on top of it all? More content.

"In an ideal world, Facebook takes a page from Apple and gets Quests in every public school in the country; if all of a sudden you need a VR headset to do homework, many middle class parents will buy one," Harding wrote.

"There are lots of real, practical use cases for VR right now, and demand continues to grow."

We’re already seeing many schools adopting the use of Chromebooks and other laptops for students to do their schoolwork on. With a standalone VR headset like the Quest, there really isn’t any reason we couldn’t see the same happen with VR.

Ultimately, the future of VR is a bit too broad to easily define. No matter how you look at it, though, experts in the field tend to agree: While there are many practical uses for VR right now, to really spread the industry further people need a reason to buy those headsets. That means making them more readily available and giving users more content to enjoy through them.