Tech news has recently been inundated with stories detailing the latest advancements in virtual and augmented reality. Sony is releasing the PlayStation VR Headset, Oculus is rumored to be debuting hand controllers for the Rift headset, and Google introduced its latest VR platform Daydream.
It seems like every day another company is showcasing how its headset is different and/or better than the others on the market. With each new development, the technology is improving and virtual reality headsets are becoming more accessible.
“Over the next five years the headsets will get smaller and less intrusive, like visors that let you partially see some of your physical environment when you need to and dial virtual experiences in and out,” said Dan Pacheco, the Peter A. Horvitz Endowed Chair in Journalism Innovation at [email protected], the online Master of Science in Communications program from Syracuse University. “This is already starting to happen with headsets like Microsoft’s Hololens, a so-called ‘mixed reality’ device that projects virtual experiences into the room you’re in.”
When I was in school, I used to stare at the pictures in my history book and try to imagine what it would have been like to be there. What else was happening right outside the borders of that image? What’s it like to climb up the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza? What sounds could be heard on Christopher Columbus’ ships as they sailed (unknowingly) toward the United States?
In the coming years, students might not have to wonder. They might be able to experience it for themselves through virtual reality headsets.
“HoloLens lets you literally be in two places at once,” Pacheco said. “You can be virtually at the top of ancient Incan ruins while partially seeing and talking to someone who is in the room with you. And oddly enough, it feels completely natural to be in two places at once like this.”
It’s not surprising that being in two places would feel natural with the right technology. As I’m sitting at my desk writing this, I’m imagining myself on a beach with the sun shining down and the waves crashing on the shore in front of me. If you’re anything like me, you’ve teleported yourself to another place in your mind on many occasions.
The future of virtual reality will likely make those daydreams seem more like reality. One day VR headsets might be as commonplace as cellphones are today, but the technology still has a long way to go. See how VR technology has evolved throughout the last century in this infographic from [email protected].