Predictions for VR in 2016

Virtual reality made a big splash in 2015. Google unveiled the awesome Cardboard V2 kit, an update to its much-appreciated first viewer. The year’s three biggest movie franchises (Star Wars, Jurassic World, and the Avengers) all released VR experiences on various platforms. But one of the biggest surprises was the good old New York Times releasing VR content. The New York Times showed how old media could work alongside new technology.

But that’s for 2015. Taking stock of all the stuff that happened, you could probably guess what’s going to happen in 2016. Here are our own predictions:

Greater competition will increase VR user base

You could consider the Oculus Rift one of the gadgets responsible for the modern VR resurgence. Google answered in 2014 with Google Cardboard, which was more accessible and DIY. In late 2015, Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens, a “mixed reality” headset. There are some pretty big players in the scene, each shaping its own vision of virtual reality.

This is a good thing, because it makes VR less fringe. More importantly, the presence of large companies could encourage developers and publishers to create more VR content. (Admittedly, VR content is still pretty slim pickings) And better, more compelling content is necessary to growing a user base. We see more hardware, more content, and ultimately, more people jumping on the VR train.

Better integration with existing media

Virtual reality isn’t an old-media killer, it’s an old-media enabler. It’s pretty unique because it doesn’t really replace anything that came before it (not even video). This gives VR a relevance across different media. New media such as gaming and online video are already using VR. But we predict VR will integrate further with traditional media such as print and TV, breathing new life to the old media guard.

The artistic potential of VR will be realized

Alongside its commercial uses, technology also has artistic applications. Virtual reality presents new possibilities for artists - especially video artists - to explore. We predict major exhibiting artists will present VR-based works during some of 2016’s biggest art fairs and exhibitions.

Nothing we predicted will come true

Right, how’s that for a disclaimer? Tech Nostradamuses we ain’t. Regardless of what we think is coming, VR will do what it does. It could build on the past, or it could makes a totally radical shift that no one saw coming. Either way, that’s the cool thing about technology. With that said, here’s the only 100% reliable prediction anyone can make: 2016 will surprise us all.


Photo Credit: Christian Schnettelker CC by 2.0

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