The “Real” Future for Virtual Reality

We all know the impact “reality” programming has had on the TV industry. How about “virtual” reality?

Going back to Second Life, I’ve long been convinced Virtual Reality is the next big thing. I see it as a logical outgrowth of the popularity of video gaming. The video game industry surpassed the movie industry in revenue several years ago.

Kara Alaimo, PhD, assistant professor of public relations at Hofstra University, recently wrote a very interesting article for PRSA Tactics (January 2016), titled “A New Reality: 6 Ways VR Can Transform public Relations.” I don’t want to repeat her information here, but I do want to comment on it, especially based on discussions I had at the recent NATPE meeting in Miami.

First of all, Virtual reality (VR) is far more compelling than 3D, which has been a failure in the home TV format. 3D can cause eye strain and is often hard to process in our brains. For instance, while I thought AVATAR was great in 3D because it was designed with that medium in mind, the recent STAR WARS re-boot 3D experience came across less well. In terms of the user experience, virtual reality by contrast feels much more natural. It’s more like the video game experience, which people can be immersed in for hours without headaches or eyestrain.

First of all a lot of VR experiences can be social, interactive, shared experiences. By the nature of VR, its’ not necessarily the same experience every time, so people tend to watch VR content more than once, because there is so much to see and do.

You want to give VR a try on the cheap? Try the new Google cardboard:

It’s basically some cardboard origami that helps turn your iPhone into a VR viewing device. You can then “Google” and download or stream some VR programming to give it a trial run.

VR (not unlike video games) provides a new entertainment platform for storytellers, but it’s also good for educational experience for kids of all ages. Facebook and other social media sites have already been experimenting with posting VR content and the response has been very positive. The general thought is that VR is going to be most useful in the fields of education, travel and medicine, but the implications for the entertainment and communications industries are enormous.

Thoughts, questions, comments, I’d love to hear from you.