Virtual reality is nothing less than the ultimate and final medium of expression for entertainment. Everything that’s come before — from the written word to the moving picture — attempted to communicate the idea of an experience.
However, virtual reality technology doesn’t just communicate an experience — it lets you live it.
To create good virtual reality experiences, though, people need to leave the confines of their living rooms. When they do that, they’re able to experience a social event that enables them to walk freely within virtual environments, interacting with the scenery and even other participants. This is also known as location-based virtual reality, and it’s gaining popularity as home-based virtual reality has shown its limitations.
According to VR technology news, home-based systems have problems related to everything from prohibitive costs to a lack of adequate space. Home-based systems don’t allow users to interact with their environments fully because of the physical limits of the average home.
Meanwhile, location-based virtual reality gives users a custom-designed space to interact with while they explore the virtual world. Instead of the limitations created by a tethered headset, users can enjoy increased mobility thanks to a headset and a virtual reality backpack PC. As people begin to understand what makes a good virtual reality experience, they’ll flock to such spaces.
The location-based virtual reality market is growing as developers create more content. “Holoplexes” will someday dot our landscapes just as multiplex movie theaters did in the 1960s. Forward-thinking business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs have an exciting opportunity to become leaders in this industry — but they must first understand where it’s headed to seize the moment.
The (Virtual) Reality of the Industry
Virtual reality has been part of the pop culture landscape for decades. From “Total Recall” and “Star Trek” to “The Matrix” and “Ready Player One,” the future of virtual reality frequently is on our minds. At this point, we’re still a few years away from the future that so many people have predicted.
That said, VR is progressing at a steady pace — especially location-based virtual reality. Investors have taken notice, and some went so far as to create the VR Venture Capital Alliance to encourage continued growth in virtual reality future technology. Unfortunately, however, virtual reality content is expensive to develop — even for companies like Google — due to the costs associated with creating the content and then making it work with various combinations of hardware and software.
To understand where virtual reality stands today, it’s useful to consider the technological advances and disadvantages affecting it. Here are three technology trends that are playing an essential role in the future of virtual reality:
• Hardware Capabilities: Many virtual reality companies don’t create their own hardware. This means they avoid exorbitant development costs, but they also have to rely on others to ensure the equipment improves with time.
For virtual reality to continue progressing, it needs to follow Moore’s law (i.e., the idea that computers will become faster and improve capabilities while becoming more affordable). VR hardware must also increase its processing power (giving users a better field of view by powering more pixels). Higher resolutions and bigger fields of view lead to better virtual experiences and enhanced immersion for users.
• Tethering Abilities: Virtual reality initially required users to be tethered to computers by cords, limiting their ability to move around and participate in experiences. Within the past year, however, companies have debuted mobile-friendly options like the Oculus Quest. While the graphics quality of these headsets is still lower than headsets tethered to PCs, they provide a promising look at the untethered future of VR.
• Full-Bodied Embodiment: At-home virtual reality is limited. Many of these systems have users interact with virtual environments as disembodied heads with floating controllers. To fully participate in virtual reality, people require full-body embodiment — giving users a virtual body that they can identify with from head to toe. Although home-based VR lacks in this department, location-based virtual reality offers users a superior experience.
Virtual reality future technology can only progress from here. The better the hardware capabilities become — and the more participants can freely roam within digital environments — the better virtual reality will be. Considering its advantages over home-based offerings, location-based VR presents a growing opportunity in the business world.
Building a VR Business
Virtual reality is already impressive, but technology improvements will only move the sector in one direction: up. Consider how far we’ve already come since Oculus first shipped its DK1 VR dev kits in 2014. That initial offering was an expensive tethered VR performance that required a ton of customization to work optimally.
Fast forward to today, and VR systems benefit from reduced tethering, lower prices, and plenty of gaming — and nongaming — content. Even as augmented reality gains traction, the momentum surrounding virtual reality applications is influencing the future of gaming, livestreaming, and social media.
Location-based reality is primed for further adoption. Analysts predict that location-based virtual reality will see a compound annual growth rate of 36% over the next three years. As a solution, location-based virtual reality gives consumers a more affordable option for exploring the technology by either participating in virtual reality gaming trends or becoming a background character in a narrative film.
In the next five years, participants won’t have to wear trackers or PC backpacks to feel fully immersed in virtual worlds. Location-based virtual reality already allows users to roam within an environment and become part of a story or an experience — and that technology will continue to advance.
The same advancements that are happening within virtual reality are happening elsewhere in the technology ecosystem. Gaming trends show that some traditional gaming consoles — ones that use controllers and gesture-controlled gaming — are improving some of the hardware needed to upgrade virtual reality. And companies interested in using virtual environments for training are investing in their own VR upgrades.
Location-based virtual reality is poised to become one of the most significant entertainment contributors in the world. It will play a significant role in the future of virtual reality, likely altering how we interact with media and each other.
Mind the Opportunity Gaps
With so much virtual reality industry growth, entrepreneurs and business leaders must understand any existing gaps in growth. To truly capitalize on a virtual reality franchise or similar endeavor, it’s necessary to think about how technology, gaming, and the consumer market will impact location-based virtual reality.
As we’ve already mentioned, Oculus is the primary player in the virtual reality market when it comes to technology. It produces the latest and greatest technologies, from the basics of higher resolution displays to varifocal displays that track your eyes and allow them to focus independently to achieve depth perception. Oculus is also experimenting with full-body tracking and interfacing realities. The problem? None of it’s commercialized, and these advancements are all coming from one company.
What makes a good virtual reality experience is largely determined by how much you can bring everything together into one cohesive package. If you can combine individual pieces of hardware and software — and ensure they work well together — then you should have no problem commercializing your creation. By marrying haptics, the popularity of the gaming industry, and upgraded visuals, you can create stronger experiences for participants.
Gaming’s Influence on Virtual Reality
There’s a lot of overlap between gaming and virtual reality. As such, there are numerous gaming trends that could — and probably should — translate to location-based virtual reality. Here are a few:
• Production Value: As the location-based virtual reality market expands, higher production values will be necessary. It’s similar to what happened with theaters over the years: When movies first started, people could only attend one or two theaters — which is why we didn’t see the sweeping blockbuster hits of today back the early 20th century.
• Storytelling: Higher production values generally lead to better storytelling. And people will always return to experiences that offer superior storytelling. It all starts with creating characters that participants want to invest in. Disney can trace its growth to Mickey Mouse’s creation way back in 1928. Virtual reality franchise operators who want to expand location-based VR will need characters that can translate into great stories.
• Character Ownership: Characters don’t automatically ensure great storytelling, of course. In virtual reality, participants can become the characters they want to be. Similar to role-playing games, the role that matters most to participants is the one they’re embodying. To take advantage of this opportunity, business owners could find ways for participants to make their characters more interesting as they play and level up.
• Replayability: Virtual reality cannot contain “one and done” experiences if it wants to appeal to consumers. Once participants finish a VR experience, they should gain a new level or a unique opportunity that encourages them to come back for more. Considering the social element of location-based virtual reality, customers should feel energized to come back with different groups of friends to enjoy entirely new experiences.
[Possible Design Element]
Our Deadwood Mansion Experience had 20% return customers in our Hong Kong facility.
• Esports: More and more people are watching esports live in arenas, making it a social spectator experience. But audiences are still watching a handful of people sitting behind monitors with keyboards and mice. If that experience were translated to virtual reality, spectators would be able to view a blend of the movement present in physical sports and the electronic elements of esports.
• Consumer Markets: In an increasingly digital world, people desire more real-world experiences with friends — provided they’re high-quality experiences. Millennials, for example, spend more money on upscale, social experiences outside of their homes. This trend offers perhaps the most significant opportunity for virtual reality industry growth.
Location-based virtual reality is something consumers can’t experience elsewhere. The best consumer virtual reality allows participants to become different characters, go on amazing adventures, and interact with their friends, family members, or co-workers while working toward a common goal.
The design of any spaces hosting location-based virtual reality must encourage these interactions. Location-based VR combines an amusement park with a movie theater, which means they must have a retail component as well as someone who can help guide users.
Making Virtual Reality Viable
Virtual reality is ripe with opportunities for anyone looking to build a business. But knowing the possibilities is half the battle — you also have to run a company.
Location-based virtual reality franchise owners must know how to get the right people in the door — in terms of customers as well as employees. The more passion you and your team members have for technology, the more you’ll enhance the experience for participants. Here are three factors to consider as you start a franchise:
- Provide customers with ownership. Customers enjoy having opportunities to relate to their characters. The more opportunities you give them for ownership, the more likely they are to come back for more. Virtual reality franchise owners should find ways for participants to show off their characters beyond the digital world, such as via an online portal or a smartphone app.
- Look for opportunities — even if they don’t yet exist. Take the time to evaluate ideas on the market, even if they’re not fully formed or widely adopted. Find ways to help customers become excited about virtual reality, which could include experimenting with something like haptic technology that allows consumers to feel the world around them.
- Consider emotions. Location-based virtual reality is social. Consumers can walk around with their friends in a virtual environment, but it’s not easy to pick up on what others are feeling. Look for ways to capture body language and facial expressions, which will enable customers to express their emotions in a virtual environment.
Virtual reality isn’t just the future — it’s already here. It’s also improving on a daily basis. The industry’s best current offering is location-based virtual reality. If you’re ready to participate in the future, it’s time to learn about starting a location-based virtual reality franchise. Find out how to own the future here.