Virtual reality is one of the most promising trends in the field of video games, but also in other professional sectors. According to the White Book on the Development of Video Games in Spain, its advance is unstoppable: 30% of companies are already carrying out developments in virtual reality. In fact, 2016 is the year in which the leading manufacturer of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) or 360° video experiences will put their end-consumers proposals on the table. Our country is seen to be one of the most interested in acquiring products related to this technology, with a 16% intention to buy.

All these new technologies have in common a hardware device that is positioned in front of our eyes, be it a helmet, glasses or lenses, and a receptacle for a smartphone. But do you know the characteristics of each of these? Virtual reality (VR) consists of technology generated by a computer system that provides 3D images and auditory environments in order to allow the user to experience a total audiovisual immersion, as well as being able to interact with it in real time; augmented reality (AR) makes it possible to experience computer-generated 2D or 3D images of a real view of the environment surrounding the user. That is to say, AR adds layers of graphics in real time and interactively to that which is seen through the ocular device. The most popular example was Google Glass, and finally, 360° video, and although its content generation is similar to that of VR and AR, it must be said that content generation is not in real time. I.e. the content is pre-recorded. In this sense, it can be considered a passive experience compared to the other two technologies.

As for the virtual reality market, it should be mentioned that growth is unstoppable, as is the constant appearance of new proposals. As the White Book emphasises, the latest launches have been: HTC Vive, aimed at the most demanding computer players; Oculus Rift, the most veteran proposal and well-known since its acquisition by Facebook; Samsung Gear VR, closer to video in 360 ° than to virtual reality, and Sony PlayStation VR, fresh out of the oven, the latest VR games device, compatible with the PlayStation 4 console.

Virtual reality applications above and beyond the sphere of video games.

The White Book of Video Games also reveals that the current and future applications of virtual reality are very wide-ranging, although initially their technology tends to be associated with the development of video games. However, it must be said that sectors such as education, health, tourism, industry or architecture are implementing numerous applications where three-dimensional environments provide the user with not only a unique and entertaining experience, but also with the tools necessary for training, executing or decision making. All this implies the need for qualified professionals in this industry, and therefore the development of virtual reality products and services not only involves technical knowledge, but also a new way of interacting with the user, of narrating stories, designing environments, etc. In this sense, artistic profiles, and those of narrative and user experience, are completely necessary.

Thus virtual reality can have numerous applications. For this reason, rather than the specific sectors where VR can be applied, it is more interesting to refer to the benefits and challenges that VR entails and thus understand how to innovate or provide solutions to the needs of these sectors: health, construction, business, entertainment, education, fashion, tourism, journalism, social interaction, culture, research, smart city, the automobile industry, sports, design, architecture, public utilities, security, e-commerce, communication, etc.

Lastly, the interest of big companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Disney and the evolution and fall in the price of this technology will normalise its uses, thereby introducing many more people to this area. In this way, business opportunities will increase in many different fields.

Learn more about the way virtual reality is evolving, by consulting the latest edition of White Book on the Development of Video Games in Spain.