Virtual reality has been part of the public consciousness for at least the past five years. In 2014, Facebook made a highly publicized purchase of Oculus for $2 billion, setting off the modern era of VR. After two more years of development, the first consumer shipments went out in 2016 — joined by a competing product from HTC called the Vive.
But how is virtual reality doing now?
The reality of consumer penetration was not as swift as analysts predicted, leading to a complicated existence for both the content community and hardware manufacturers. Market adoption aside, one thing is certain: Even the most basic first experience with VR is mind-blowing. As a result, virtual reality systems will continue to exist both in-home as well as out-of-home.
Home-based systems will provide personal entertainment and educational options. Location-based virtual reality and commercial offerings, on the other hand, will build on that by entertaining and educating users in social and group outings.
Virtual reality experience centers will allow guests to be “inserted” into all manner of experiences. Similar to going to the movies, consumers will be able to purchase a ticket for a particular experience. But unlike a traditional film, free-roaming virtual reality centers will empower consumers and their friends to play a “part” in the narrative and control the elements of the outcome.
As these capabilities continue to enthrall consumers, the future of virtual reality will move away from home systems and toward free-roaming centers that entertain, educate, and build communities of loyal users.
The Limits of Home-Based Reality
Those who wonder whether virtual reality will succeed in the home market usually encounter this argument: There are too many limitations. Virtual reality in the entertainment industry should give participants the freedom to fully immerse themselves in the scene, an ability that home systems struggle to offer with consistency and quality.
Here are two specific challenges associated with home-based virtual reality systems:
- They trigger motion sickness. Virtual reality headsets drop users into a wholly digital environment that disconnects them from the outside world. When that technology is poorly designed, this unique experience becomes less about enjoyment and more about equilibrium maintenance.
As exciting as these possibilities are, virtual reality technology must allow users to safely and functionally interact with virtual environments. Location-based virtual reality experiences can often mitigate this entirely by tracking the motion of each user’s arms and legs to ensure the mind and body feel connected the entire time.
- They limit movement. Home-based virtual reality users are at the mercy of their surroundings. This means they’re limited by what’s around them and unable to explore the virtual world without bumping into furniture — or they have to mimic movement instead of naturally moving. Unless users have large open spaces without any furniture, home-based virtual reality systems cannot fully immerse them into the digital world.
Location-based virtual reality centers, meanwhile, reside in spacious, free-roaming facilities that encourage users to interact with the technology organically. Instead of making the most of their surroundings, location-based consumers can give themselves up to the technology and freely move around without fear of injury or impediment.
Will virtual reality succeed? Yes, but its long-term value appears to lie in location-based offerings that organically interact with users’ natural mobility. People will naturally flock to virtual reality centers to participate in the digital world with their friends — but only if they have the spacial freedom to interact with the technology truly. Location-based virtual reality allows for that possibility.
Thankfully, you don’t have to wait around for the future of virtual reality to catch up. Click here to learn more about Sandbox VR franchise ownership and how you can become engrained in the location-based VR revolution today.