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Will VR become more ubiquitous than the smartphone? This man seems to think so

The founder of Oculus VR believes that VR and other similar devices will be more commonplace than smartphones today.
Nov 3rd 2015, 4:19 PM 13,356 18

VIRTUAL REALITY DEVICES will eventually become more commonplace than smartphones today as more people choose it as their main device, says the founder of Oculus VR.

Speaking at the Web Summit, Palmer Luckey said that there’s no reason why it or similar technology couldn’t end up replacing the smartphone as we know it, either as a wearable device or something we carry around with us, although it’s something that won’t happen immediately.

“I’m really biased but I think it’s going to be more ubiquitous than a smartphone”, said Luckey. “If they end up converging into hardware that we wear all the time or carry around with us, there’s no reason to expect it can’t supplement everything we do with smartphones”.

[We've] got a long road of smartphones left and a lot of other advances going on in computing, but I’ll be very surprised if 50 years from now, we’re all still carrying around slabs.

Orlovsky and Oculus Rift Oculus Rift allows wearers to experience virtual reality experiences like films and games. It's expected to be released early next year. Source: Sergey Galyonkin/Flickr

For now, the barriers that are blocking VR from becoming popular are the cost of the technology, the applications for such hardware (Luckey says it a case of industries catching up with the technology), and the specific hardware you need to power VR applications.

It’s still early days for the technology but while gaming is the obvious application for such hardware, Luckey believes it could have positive benefits in areas like teaching as it’s a versatile and cost-effective method of experiencing different things.

“Kids don’t learn best by reading textbooks” said Luckey. ”I’m generalising, but there’s clearly value in real world experience. That why we have field trips, that’s why we send kids to places like museums and sometimes foreign countries when we can”.

The problem is the majority of people will never be able to do the majority of those experiences… where they can’t go down the road and see those amazing things. VR has the potential to make those experiences available to everyone, not just things that exist in real-life, but things you can’t do in real life like see molecular structure or chemical structure. Being able to visit recreations of things that don’t exist in real-life… it has the potential to help people learn in much more real ways.

Sportsfile (Web Summit) Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey at Web Summit. Source: Sportsfile(Web Summit)/Flickr

Luckey feels the changes brought by virtual reality will make us look back at photos and videos now the same way we treat old black and white photos. While it gives us a snapshot into the past, it will be seen as a limited method of documenting things.

“If we look back a few decades, we have a lot of black and white photos showcasing many events in history. It’s really incredible… [for past events] all we have are very limited black and white pictures.

Video recordings, like what we’re talking about today, will feel similar to black and white photos in a few decades. I wouldn’t be surprised in twenty to thirty years time we look back… and say “Wow, can you believe we shared experiences through teeny tiny rectangles”.

Read: Web Summit founder: ‘What we received in the last four years was nothing more than hush money’ >

Read: This is the way blind people are going to ‘see’ photos on Facebook >

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Quinton O'Reilly


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