To borrow a popular phrase from Samsung, everyone in the tech industry is currently looking for the “Next Big Thing”. Yes, smartphones remain a large part of our daily lives, and wearables have gained some traction over the past couple of years, but tech companies are banking that Virtual Reality (VR) is the future. Few understand this better than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who took some time at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) to explain his (and his company’s) vision for VR, and how the new technology could affect the lives of everyday users.
Zuckerberg envisions that VR will allow users to easily capture major milestones and events in real time. He believes the technology will make these moments special by allowing users to experience entire settings in much greater detail than usual. He also touched on gaming and how VR will bring more immersive and diverse gaming experiences to users, even in large groups. Despite his excitement, he did caution that it would probably take at least 10 years for VR to reach its full potential, but also insisted that he and his company are hard at work on making those possibilities a reality.
This isn’t the first time Zuckerberg has made comments in relation to VR. The Facebook chief made a surprise appearance at Samsung’s VR demo at MWC where he spoke about the two companies’ new partnership. During his appearance, Zuckerberg mentioned that Facebook would be bringing their 360 video streaming technology to Samsung’s own Gear VR headsets. For their part, Samsung announced that those who purchase a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge between February 23rd and March 18th would receive a free Gear VR headset with their purchase.
Facebook is just one participant in what’s already becoming a very crowded VR market. The company purchased Oculus VR in 2014 for $2 billion, with their Oculus Rift headset set to launch this March. Samsung already has the Gear VR, but the company also announced the Gear 360 camera which can capture 360° video for VR viewing. HTC (in partnership with Valve) developed their own VR headset in the HTC Vive, which is set to launch this April for $799. Even Google offers its own headset in the form of Google Cardboard, and while it may lack the technical punch of the competition, Google sells it at a very affordable price. With so many companies involved, and so much hardware either released or set for release, the VR sector looks to heat up considerably for the remainder of 2016.