Lifestyle & Culture

Virtual Reality and the Future of "Media" as We Know it

VR is Taking Off in More Ways Than One

18.04.2018 | by Kezia Parkins
Photo by Billetto Editorial on Unsplash
Photo by Billetto Editorial on Unsplash

The benefits of virtual reality beyond the world of video gaming have been well documented. However, the technology’s applications to the world of media are still in their infancy. It was only ten years ago that the concept of a wearable VR headset would have raised eyebrows – an idea reserved for the character of Marty McFly in Back to the Future.

As augmented and virtual reality continue to develop, the technology has shown some exciting promise. The immersive nature of virtual reality is providing eager audiences with more contextual detail than ever before — making the technology an ideal fit in the dynamic world of media.

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The popularity behind augmented and virtual reality can be largely explained by recent household hits in the industry, with VR-enabled game titles such as Skyrim VR and Resident Evil generating immense hype at the time of their launch. Pokémon Go was one of the most popular apps in trend history, with the augmented reality game attracting over 750 million downloads in its first year. However, the outreach of this immersive technology isn’t limited to the gaming platforms of the modern living room, with developments in the field come new and exciting applications to the world around us – including the news and digital content that we consume every single day.

Advancements in technology have anxious journalists looking over their shoulders, with artificial intelligence increasingly playing prominent roles generating content in newsrooms around the world. Virtual reality, however, has added a welcome level of depth to the field of journalism. A recent partnership between Reuters and Samsung has given reporters more facets to their coverage: 360-degree capturing cameras have provided a more immersive view of global events, as news consumers are dropped right into the action. Other industries have followed suit, with architects, interior designers and even Pornhub investing in VR camera coverage, providing their clients with a more immersive and engaging experience.

The New York Times has followed suit with The Displaced. The VR film puts its viewers in the shoes of children driven from their homes by international conflict. The production was well received by readers, with the newspaper’s editor Dean Baquet describing the visual achievement as “the first critical, serious piece of journalism using virtual reality.” Commercially, this is a partnership that has benefited both parties, with The New York Times providing codes for digital subscribers who may wish to purchase the virtual reality headsets. For impressed readers, this may be a tempting offer, as the popular American publication announced ambitious plans to roll out more VR-enabled content in the future.

New York Times VR Headset

It is now undoubted that the modern media consumer is looking for a more connected user experience. Innovations in virtual reality continue to strive towards that objective, with the industry attracting massive investment over recent years. Global virtual reality revenues reached a staggering height of $7.17 billion at the end of 2017, with a report published by Greenlight Insights predicting that those revenues will rise to a total of $75 billion by 2021. With investment capital increasingly throwing its weight behind the immersive technology, the depictions of virtual reality as a daily experience in Back to the Future may not seem so bizarre after all.

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