Many tech companies are (or at the very least thinking about) building devices that support virtual reality. With such devices, people will be able to explore digitally created scenarios in an intuitive way, because what’s being displayed matches the movement of the head and in some cases, the system captures some movements of additional parts of the body. This technology is not new, and some futuristic films have shown us its capabilities. Still, virtual reality has not been broadly adopted yet, so Goldman Sachs explains why this technology has not succeeded in the past and why it might become quite popular in the years to come.
In the early 1990’s, there was very few content that supported virtual reality. There were a few arcade games and even Nintendo attempted to bring such technology into our homes with the Virtual Boy. The technology was portrayed in films like “The Lawnmower Man”, but those implementations of virtual reality had little relation to what was portrayed on those films. So, according to Goldman Sachs, what’s changed since then is that computers are now powerful enough to render realistic and immersive graphics, so virtual reality or augmented reality can actually work. Additionally, the necessary components such as displays and sensors have become more common and thus, more cost-effective, so the technology is not entirely unattainable, which could increase its popularity.
“Fundamentally, virtual/augmented reality creates a new and even more intuitive way to interact with a computer. In the world of virtual/augmented reality, the controls of the computer become what we are already familiar with through gestures and graphics,” Goldman Sachs writes. This means that “head-mounted devices” or “HMDs” could be involved in a whole new form of computing, just like PCs in the past decades. This time around, many potential uses have been shown off, which make the technology seem less like a novelty, therefore, virtual reality could appeal to general consumers and business-oriented consumers alike. For example, HTC’s Vive and Samsung’s Gear VR seem to be targeted at gaming, but Facebook is using the Oculus Rift as an immersive communication platform and Microsoft’s HoloLens and its augmented reality experience could be used by professional designers, architects and engineers.