We Are Already Living In Virtual reality World…
I recall in the 1990s my father took me to the Royal Adelaide Show. In one of the front pavilions there was a virtual reality demo.
It was so expensive that we couldn’t afford to have a go, but we watched the vision on a screen from the side.
The hardware looked very much like this:
And the vision looked very much like this:
Total gimmick and unusable outside a show.
Virtual reality didn’t hit my radar until February 2013 when Google released Glass.
In December of 2013 I attempted to create a Google Glass hire business, mainly to crowdfund a pair of them so I could use them and wasn’t out of pocket.
The market wasn’t there.
Google knew the same thing (assumably based on their heavy price tag for a mainstream consumer wearable) as well as being clunky and associated privacy concerns (which still exist), so they shut Glass down in 2015.
They had already released Google Cardboard which was a low-cost system to encourage interest and development in virtual reality applications.
I got my first Google Cardboard on 27 May 2015.
Snap Spectacles were released on 23 September 2016, and in my humble opinion looked ridiculous and I wasn’t a big Snapchat user (although I own Snapchat stock now) at the time.
Reverse a bit and in March 2014 Facebook Inc. acquired Oculus VR, Inc for $2 billion — Zuckerberg also saw the opportunity, and given his track record in predicting consumer market trends as demonstrated by the purchase of Instagram in 2012 and failed attempt to acquire Musical.ly (now TikTok) in 2016, he has more credibility than the naysayers of this post IMHO.
This month, Facebook has partnered with Ray-Ban to announce its first pair of “smart” sunglasses: https://gizmodo.com/facebooks-ray-ban-glasses-leaked-and-they-look-awfully-1847642073
They are somewhat better looking (https://www.ray-ban.com/australia/ray-ban-stories) than the previous attempts yet still have the same category of features as others that came before them:
· Dual 5MP camera;
· Touch control; and
The “discrete open-ear speakers allow you to seamlessly switch between taking a call and ordering a coffee. The 3 built-in microphones capture sound in all directions so you get rich voice and sound quality for calls and videos”.
The timing is not right, but it’s better: Google and Amazon have invested heavily in voice over the years which wasn’t around for any of the other wearable attempts and voice will be quicker adopted than virtual reality…
…I invested a lot of my time last year into learning the space by recording and distributing almost 150 podcasts and building dozens of voice apps, including the world’s first petrol price predictor, recycling help, daily UV index and surf report voice assistants as well as food ordering, currently roadworks, niche daily help and so on.
I believe voice will be ubiquitous and virtual reality soon after that.
Facebook’s Ray-Ban’s won’t be the final iteration on the journey to virtual reality and other players will come (back) into the market.
But I am calling my shot — we’ll all wear these or an iteration of them at some point (no doubt one will be a contact lens).
In 2021, we spent on average 145 minutes per day on social media — if we assume we have 8 hours spare a day taking out sleep and work, that’s more than 2.5 hours on social media, let alone our phones, there’s not much time left to do the other vitals of life.
That should be enough to convince you that social media is “virtual” reality, in its strictest sense: it’s both digital (virtual) and not real (it’s vanity/escapism/entertainment/etc).
We are living in virtual reality just via a primitive device.
The devices will get better and we’ll likely not see the slow changes until we are fully in them, just like happened with mobiles and social media.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I own Facebook, Amazon and Google stocks also.