Have you ever been so lost in your thoughts that the whole world around you seemed to disappear? Have you ever done so on purpose? Day-to-day living, working, and doing by a means similar to what you’ve only ever seen through your mind’s eye will soon become the norm.
Society is gearing up to live in a fantasy land which, up until recently, has only existed in places like movie theaters, sci-fi novels, comic books, and our minds. Yesterday’s idea of “tomorrow” is alive, and it is ready to become the new standard for the way we do things. What kind of things? Well, all sorts of things. But thus far, we have only scratched the surface for what lies ahead.
Companies of all types have made significant leaps changing their business approach, attempting to cater to what people want and need today. How do you buy a car now without test driving it? How do you choose the perfect chair without sitting on it? How do you select the right tie to match that favorite shirt without physically holding the two against one another?
You steer your audience in a direction that makes them never want to look back at the way they did it before.
In the digital age, tech inserts itself into our lives, and then we wonder how we ever managed to live without it. One day very soon, that will be true for virtual reality (VR) as well. Inside, outside, it doesn’t matter. You will be living in more worlds than just your own, and putting your headset on in the morning will be as important as reaching for your smartphone before heading out the door.
We don’t fully know all of the opportunities that exist, but that’s why we need to explore. Think of it in terms of painting a picture. Can anyone throw paint on a canvas? Certainly. But can just anyone impress and astound the masses with how they threw on that paint? Not necessarily. Having the tools available is only one piece of the puzzle. The next step is to do something remarkable with them that no one has ever done before. Virtual reality is a tool, and this tool is at our disposal.
There is a colossal race in the shadows of every development team to see who can come out victorious. However, victory is not merely the concept of getting something to work. Victory is getting the most intuitive, astounding, groundbreaking something above all somethings to work and thus lead the target consumer to use yours and not the horde of other options in front of them. In the end, the question to be asked is whether it will be done because it’s impressive or because it’s useful? The answer should be both.
VR is currently underestimated in terms of how much it is needed. Imagine a client is ready to spend ump-teen million dollars on a new facility. A little time passes, a few cups of coffee and a meeting or two later, they’re ready to go live. For the architect or a contractor, it is precisely as they had imagined it. But then they turn to see the client, standing there scratching their head and saying it is not quite what they thought. We’ve all heard the saying, “it looks good on paper,” but people in the design world tend to take for granted their ability to envision the end product. A good handful of people see nothing more than just lines on paper. Suddenly, the client might be left thinking that they could have saved a bundle or reworked it had they understood a little more. Now let’s rewind a bit, throw on a headset, and “…oh you want to move that over there, no problem! Get rid of that wall? Gone!”
What makes sense to people is what they already understand. The immersive experience is more than just strapping something to your head and holding onto a couple of controllers. It should allow your perception to let you believe that you are where your mind is telling you you are, and you are seeing what your mind is telling you you are seeing, without ever thinking about how you are doing it.
“Yeah, we do VR.” Well, what exactly does that mean? Try to break that statement down for the average person. That’s like going to the bar and saying, “one alcohol, please!” What exactly do you want? It’s not as black and white as it may appear, although, in the greater scheme of things, the possibilities are endless when mixing the perfect cocktail. Do you want to view your space? Do you want to interact with your space? Do you want to use this as a training tool? Who is going to be using this? Bottom line, what exactly are we trying to accomplish here? The idea of automating a process has taken on new meaning, as the world can be laid out before us with the ability to control all things without breaking ground or dropping a single dime.
“Going to work” will eventually have a different meaning than it has today. Your physical location will be less important, as it will matter more where your mental being is situated. Designing, analyzing, collaborating, and much more, while doing so real-time in a simulated world as you walk around believing you are there, will eventually be as common as clicking your way around a 2D screen. Like anything that has the power to change the world, the future of VR will not be decided by a single group; the story will write itself.
—Joe Nemeth, St. Onge Company