Will 2017 be the year of virtual reality?

Will we all be wearing headsets like the one you see above by the end of the year? There’s no doubt that the Oculus Rift has rebooted the once dead virtual reality industry by providing an experience that’s fast and detailed enough that you might actually be taken in. If you’ve never had the experience, you’ll have to be content with the reviews, which are overwhelmingly positive. It really is “virtual reality,” practically as real as it gets.

So should you go out and buy yours today?

Personally I think virtual reality will be a fad (again) and while it’s a lot better than it was when we all first heard of it in the 1990s, there are still some reasons that it won’t last this time.

Big bulky equipment.
If you really want virtual reality, it has to be practically invisible and weightless. If you watch Black Mirror you’ll see what I mean; they’ve conceived of brain implants and magic contact lenses. That’s the stuff we’ll need if virtual reality is going to work. Big bulky black headgear isn’t going to catch on no matter what. It may have a following with gamers but it’s not going much further than that.

No reason to use it.
When 3D TV came out, people were impressed until we all figured out that 3D didn’t add anything to the TV watching experience. It just didn’t matter what was in front of what else. The same is true of virtual reality. Once you get past glorified video games, there’s nothing to do with virtual reality. Eventually there will be, I expect; I can imagine that medicine, most of the creative arts, and eventually most forms of business could benefit from this technology, but right now no one is really developing this technology for that. It’s all about standing on the edge of a cliff and pretending you’re about to hang glide.

Real reality is pretty good and virtual reality doesn’t beat it.
Real reality has things like smells and tastes and sensations, which virtual reality doesn’t at this point. Virtual reality deals with one of your senses which is why it’s nothing more than another way to watch TV or play video games. Real virtual reality would involve you completely, not just your eyes.

So no, I don’t think this is the year of virtual reality. I think that year will eventually come, but I have a feeling it’s at least a decade away. What do you think?

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.