In the famous Queen ballad Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddy Mercury asks ‘is this the real life? Is this just fantasy,’ then later follows up to say that ‘nothing really matters to me.’ This could be the attitude adopted by a new generation of users who will adapt to what could become a new norm, virtual reality for everything from socialising to performing complex tasks with software to emulate real-life situations. Virtual reality is a real emerging technology that promises to revolutionise everything from gaming to how surgeries are performed, and while the truly cutting edge stuff is happening on powerful PCs connected to peripherals like the Oculus Rift or HTC’s and Valve’s Vive, mobiles are getting in on the fun too.
The Appeal of Accessibility and Portability
Lots of people have powerful smartphones nowadays, and as anyone who doesn’t have any alternative other than their mobile devices to watch movies on knows, it is possible to turn a small screen into a somewhat cinematic experience. This is achieved simply by bringing the screen closer to your eyes, which is also the same basic premise that Google Cardboard operates on.
What’s this low-tech instrument with Google’s name attached to it, you might ask? It’s an enclosure for your phone that is made of, well, cardboard. It’s the applications that make it amazing: YouTube videos that let you turn your head and see another perspective in a 360 degree field of view; entire solariums that let you walk around the solar system; and horror games that will have you reacting to the environment by actually jumping out of your seat when you see a ghastly creature coming for you.
Pass it on
While smartphone-base VR experiences are relatively shallower overall, the sheer diversity of programs already available in the app marketplace that allow for VR immersion combined with the ability to share the experience with friends by simply passing the headset makes smartphones a strong contender in the VR space. With ever increasing horsepower, smartphones might become heavily marketed for their VR experiences. No one knows what the future holds, but virtual reality is one step closer to becoming a mainstream reality.