From complex training scenarios to understanding human empathy, Virtual Reality will not only fundamentally change the way in which we interact with one another, but also how we interact with computers.
For Apple users, it’s Siri. For Android users, it’s Google Now. And for Microsoft users, it’s Cortana.
No matter which device you happen to use, there’s a fairly good chance you’ve spoken to it. And it was probably in the form of a question:
“Siri, where’s the best pizza place in Berlin?”
“OK Google, when’s the next showing of Finding Dory?”
“Hey Cortana, do you speak Klingon?”
In the not too distant future, however, you might be doing more than just asking questions. You might be answering them too, all while having full blown conversations with your device!
A Changing Relationship
The way in which we now interact with technology on a day-to-day basis was the stuff of science fiction just a few short decades ago. Those previously mentioned voice-response personal assistants have been joined by the likes of Pokémon Go and Virtual Reality gaming as we hurtle towards a new dawn of technology.
And yet, we are only really scratching the surface when we discuss its potential.
It should, and will, exceed being deployed merely for use in the latest novelty game. Rather, your computer and/or smartphone will soon take on the role of a virtual companion, understanding your personality and preferences, learning and remembering so as to add value to your daily life.
Just imagine being able to pull on a VR headset and step into a virtual dojo, where your virtual companion (perhaps resembling Bruce Lee) could train you in martial arts. Or how about an Augmented Reality (AR) app that places a Michelin starred chef in your kitchen as you learn to cook?
The possibilities are exciting, and endless.
To achieve this level of interaction, it will be crucially important to help users build a natural rapport with these virtual characters. It should feel as though you are speaking with another human being, and so the amount of input required via keyboards or controllers will need to be kept to a minimum.
This is essentially where interactive Virtual Reality will come into its own. By eliminating real-world distractions, the exchange with the virtual character will instantly become more natural. Full-body gesture tracking and voice commands will replace manual inputs, keeping everything more realistic and more immersive.
Virtual Reality Interaction
Creating human-like virtual characters means having to understand human beings. How do we move, talk, walk? Once it all comes together, it brings us another step closer to that natural, life-like rapport.
And it works both ways; the characters will have to be able to pick up on your body language, speech tone, and even changes in your gaze or breathing. Essentially, the kind of signals you yourself would ordinarily pick up on when speaking with another flesh and blood human being.
This natural back-and-forth will be essential in a virtual environment. Even the slightest delay or unnatural response will bring you out of the moment.
The same applies to augmented reality; the interaction must be seamlessly natural, otherwise the experience is ruined. And when a user is out and about wearing an AR headset in public, they must also get over the fact that they will be the only ones who can view, and interact with, their virtual companion.
A Potential for Growth
The world will look very different, very soon, thanks to VR and AR technology. We haven’t quite hit the tipping point into commercially viable, widespread adoption, but we’re not far from it.
The combined revenue forecast of VR and AR currently stands at 120 billion USD by 2020, and while the vast majority of work is focused on creating immersive, interactive virtual reality games, many other fields are also being considered. These fields include education, healthcare, architecture and design, and military training.
As it stands, many of the devices and software currently available operate independently from one another. It will only be once they start to interface and create a VR/AR ecosystem that we will really witness their true potential.
The zenith for Virtual Reality interaction will undoubtedly be when we can seamlessly combine a simulated experience of our main senses (touch, taste, sound, sight, smell, and geospatial awareness) into one platform. Once this level of presence has been achieved, then introducing a virtual companion into the mix to guide us, teach us, and share with us will be the logical next step.
Of course, the naysayers and doom merchants out there will point to today’s science fiction (Spike Jonze’s Her or Alex Garland’s Ex-Machina) as examples of the dystopian future that awaits us if we fall head first into this virtual world.
Now, you may not fall in love with your operating system, or come to an untimely demise at the hands of a robot, but there is something to be said for the dangers of removing yourself completely from human-to-human interaction.
While we may have indistinguishable conversations with our virtual companions to look forward to, exploring virtual worlds with fellow humans will also be important - and enjoyable. Without it, virtual reality interactions will still feel, deep down, a little hollow.
How Can AppReal Help?
It’s fair to say that the Virtual and Augmented Reality industry is up there as one of the most exciting and enthralling around. And it has only just begun to find its feet.
Thanks to the development of VR software and hardware, a large number of industries will be forever changed as and when they adopt these new and innovative solutions.
To make sure you’re not left behind as things start to ramp up a gear, AppReal can help you make your mark in this fast-moving and dynamic marketplace.
Our unrivalled experience in virtual reality software development means we can take your initial concept and guide you through the all-important design and development stages, before creating an industry-leading VR application that will transform your business.
So, if you’re ready to take your industry - and the world - by storm with your VR app idea, speak with one of our friendly experts today to get started.