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Are These VR Developments Flying Directly Below Your Radar?

By now, you’ve probably seen at least a clip or two of someone trying out one of those funky new virtual reality sets. However, these clips are only the beginning. Virtual reality could very well be the future of entertainment and, from what we’ve gathered, the future appears to be now.

Due to VR, technology’s recent advances over the years, highly developed systems, more in line with our own imaginations, may be in consumers’ hands before you know it. Soon, we’ll be fully immersed in video games, film and television. Not only that, but we’ll be able to “attend” HD live-streamed events or hang out with friends in the VR space (sounds cool). Facebook has even begun gearing up for VR advertising space. These developments are very exciting, to say the least.

Industry leaders join the wave

You may not know it, but as of late, Comcast NBCUniversal has been making quite the significant push to bring the capabilities of virtual reality into the common American household. Not only did they team with Samsung during the Olympics to create an exclusive Rio experience on their platforms, but, according to Comcast Ventures portfolio, the company has poured some significant investment into two hopeful future leaders in the VR space, NextVR and AltspaceVR.

It an industry about which Seattle-based Comcast Communications Director Walter Neary says Comcast knows its customers are excited.

When we sponsored the July 13th Geekwire Sports and Tech Summit, people lined up for VR demonstrations,” Neary said. “Everyone is excited about the idea of being able to travel to and see new places and experiences.”

One of the companies they’ve backed through its investment arm, ComcastVentures, is NextVR, NextVR led some of the discussion at the summit, bringing both demos and a panel speaker. Neary went on to say that this soon-to-be reality is something from which we all can benefit.

Comcast is all about connecting people to what’s important in their lives,” he said, “and virtual reality is a new way of experiencing the world and worlds that don’t even exist yet. It’s exciting to be part of a company that’s always thinking ahead of what’s going to be the norm in five years, and in that time, virtual reality will be part of many lives like a video game console, a PC or a flatscreen are today.”

What’s next for virtual reality?

Despite these recent developments, virtual reality is still somewhat in its early stages. But let’s take a look into the future now, and pretend everyone has purchased their own VR set-up. You’ve already ridden that crazy roller coaster, you’ve watched One Direction (crosses fingers for their inevitable reunion) in a 3D concert live stream…so what’s next? Another company that happens to be in the ComcastVentures portfolio AltspaceVR, has been working on software that will enable users to actually “meet” in a VR setting.

As of now, users are fairly restricted in their capabilities while immersed in the VR world; they have limited mobility and can only just look around. The goal with this software is to have users interact socially through avatars, which is what would take the technology to the next level. Users will be able to socialize, play games and share and experience online content together.

When will we have our own VR set-ups?

Well… now is actually the short answer.

Virtual reality sets are widely available for purchase and/or assembly (in the case of the Google cardboard kit) on a fairly wide scale. Not only that but some of these VR sets, for the most part, are reasonably affordable as well.

Thanks to formerly smalltime companies like NextVR and AltSpaceVR thinking big, we’re looking at the emergence of this technology of the future becoming more and more commonplace in the coming months. It’s not something Seattle needs to worry about missing out on either, as its market is no stranger to the industry. To find out more about that and to keep up with virtual reality trends on a local and national level, check out Seattle’s VR meetup. The group gathers monthly for not only professionals, but general enthusiasts and anyone interested in learning about the medium.

The future is now!