2016 was labeled by many as the “Year of VR,” and in some ways it lived up to that label. We started to see plenty of demonstrations and early examples of what virtual reality headsets have to offer in entertainment and elsewhere.
With some of the most capable headsets not being released until the end of the year, we didn’t quite gain a full picture of this emerging medium. In a way, that sets 2017 up to be the true year of VR.
Here are five predictions for trends and developments we could see in virtual reality over the course of the year.
1. VR Will Take Over Retail Marketing
Stambol has suggested that retail stores could be able to use VR headsets to pitch and display products in entirely new ways. The examples given were looking at yourself trying on a new jacket out in the world, or getting a look at a new piece of furniture in your own home. It will probably take a while for stores to figure out the most creative ways to go implement the technology, but marketing tricks like these are almost certainly on the horizon.
2. Educators Will Jump On Board
It’s almost impossible to count the number of ways in which virtual reality headsets could be used as educational tools. Just imagine programs working in conjunction with history books to give students tours of ancient eras, or biology and chemistry teaching aids that allow students to interactively explore atoms and molecules.
3. Casinos Will Get In On The Gaming Action
Casino gaming providers have been subtly flirting with virtual reality for while now—just without the headsets. This has been done primarily through the advent of live dealer gaming online, which has been described by Betfair as being “like Vegas from the comfort of your home” or mobile device. It stands to reason that if gaming platforms like these are already recreating a VR experience through live video feeds to live dealers, they’ll jump on the chance to create proper VR games. That and the massive worldwide user base make this the genre to watch in VR gaming moving forward.
4. Film Trailers & Games Will Blur
Deadline recently reported that Fox is helping the upcoming film Alien: Covenant to follow in the footsteps of movies like The Wild and The Martian by releasing an interactive VR experience alongside the film. The idea is to allow fans to dive into the world of the movie, experiencing it in a cinematic way, if not fully “playing” it like a game. It seems that as applications like these keep coming out we may begin to see promotional content and games blend together when it comes to Hollywood marketing.
5. Apple Will Change The Game
The folks at Apple are likely aware that they need to make a splash. The iPhone hasn’t changed significantly in years, basic Macbook and iPad updates aren’t huge news, and the Apple Watch has been popular but not the smash hit they were hoping for. For these reasons many are predicting that a fall release of the iPhone 8 will be more dramatic than the last few product releases we’ve seen—particularly given that it represents the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone. Venturebeat suggested that Apple, which has been hiring people with expertise in VR, might make significant strides in augmented reality through the iPhone 8 camera. But whether it’s that or a fresh new headset, expect Apple to get into the VR game this year—and possibly turn it on its head.