2016 will be a breakthrough year for virtual reality, as the technology starts evolving past a gaming platform towards a new tool to experience live content, according to experts. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: This is Valkyrie, a new game designed for the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset. You're watching a two dimensional rendering of the game which does little justice to the 3D version - or the hardware used to play it. That sums up the problem with Virtual Reality - it's hard to sell 3D in a 2D world. (SOUNDBITE) English) JP NAUSEEF, CHAIRMAN, KRUSH TECHNOLOGIES, SAYING: "Today we use devices like smartphones and tablets. Tomorrow we want to change the dynamic around immersive, advanced, virtual reality to connect people all over the world." Major advances in virtual reality are starting to take shape. Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Samsung are just some of the players heavily investing in VR. Cheaper, more sophisticated, headsets are coming to market every year. At the same time, futuristic hardware like this concept simulator are expanding the scope of possibilities for virtual reality. But according to Halsey Minor, founder of CNET networks and several other tech enterprises, accelerating growth in VR must be content driven. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HALSEY MINOR, TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEUR, SAYING: "So, I think the biggest opportunities in VR are around the biggest opportunities in television and that requires the ability to do live streaming VR, which today has been a very difficult thing because of the technology involved." But now a device designed to allow people to experience live sporting events and concerts in virtual reality is taking shape. This is the Quantum Leap VR system. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HALSEY MINOR, TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEUR, SAYING: "It's 16 HD cameras all running at the same time and out of those 50 gigabytes of information, a huge amount of information, we have to craft to perfect 360 degree spheres for each eye and then transport that over the Internet." Minor predicts that just like the Internet is supplanting newspapers, VR will have the same effect on television. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HALSEY MINOR, TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEUR, SAYING: "The most interesting thing that we are going to find out in 2016 is how fertile is the market right now. Are we going to sell 10 million of these? Are we going to send a million of these? But I think that is going to tell us what our trajectory is because where you start is going to determine how fast you grow." No matter the pace, Minor says immersive technology will increasingly turn the virtual world into our everyday reality.