With a history dating back to the 1960s, virtual reality (VR) technology has not shared in the rapid development and success often associated with the world of computer technology. That is all about to change.

31 March 2016
From virtual novelty to virtual reality

VR technology and equipment may finally be on the move from novelty technology to consumer necessity. The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) revealed that some of the biggest brands in the world are looking to establish themselves as leaders in the VR space. From the incredibly immersive and high tech Oculus Rift, to the surprisingly simple Google Cardboard, the momentum of VR is now accelerating at a rapid pace. Such is the growing consumer appetite for VR, Samsung has coupled pre-orders of the new Galaxy S7 smartphone with a free Samsung Gear VR headset.

Here in Australia, a number of VR devices are slated for release in late 2016 including Sony's PlayStation VR, the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Even with the release of multiple big name devices, the buzz around VR is so high that it is expected that demand will outweigh supply.

In the past, the primary use of VR was in the gaming world. Yet the novelty factor of VR was not enough to compete with the superior quality and user experience of regular video games. Now VR technology is not only able to deliver brilliant gaming offerings, but the technology is finding a multitude of other uses. VR is being combined with 360 degree cameras for wholly immersive entertainment experiences. In healthcare, VR is being trialled as a means of distraction therapy for those experiencing pain and anxiety. And for young and old, VR is proving to be an informative, practical and engaging educational tool.

It appears that VR was simply well before its time, and despite its age is only just transitioning from infancy into adolescence. As the months go by, developers will find more creative uses for this burgeoning technology; uses we are yet to even consider.

We look forward to covering the growth and take-up of VR here in Australia.