Blog & News

Think Virtual Reality Is Just About Gaming? Think Again

VR New for 2017

Close your eyes. Now open them. You’re no longer standing in your office or living room. You’re at the bottom of the ocean. A gigantic school of fish swarms around you, forming a kaleidoscope of color. In the distance, you see a whale. It approaches, growing larger and larger in your vision. Its massive tail parts the water and you see huge waves ripple off the sides of it.

This is no dream. This is reality—virtual reality.

Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality

While virtual reality (VR) whisks you away to an entirely new world (like the ocean scene described above), augmented reality (AR) changes the world you’re currently living within, like how a Pikachu could appear on the kitchen table in front of you while playing Pokémon Go. Like 3D printing, these emerging technologies could change how we interact with our world in the (not-so-far-out) future.

As tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft pour billions of dollars into this technology, both VR and AR are becoming more mainstream. In fact, DigiCapital estimates that the VR market will reach $30 billion dollars by 2020—a mere four years from now.

iD Tech is investing in VR and AR technology not just because of its awesome potential in the gaming industry, but also for the endless opportunities it creates for kids and teens. Need proof? Students with a background in VR could see their work appear in the following places over the next few years:

1. At Schools

Even the most inquisitive young minds get bored, especially when attention span is at an all time low. Yet VR and AR could make learning more experiential and visceral. Instead of reading about how the pyramids were built, kids could step into a virtual reality and experience what it felt like to be there when the massive triangular structures were first erected. They could stand below the pyramids as hundreds of Egyptians dragged the massive stones in place, leaving with vivid memories instead of pages of notes.

2. On the Big Screen (and Small Ones, Too)

IMAX theatres and 3D screenings show that Hollywood is already inching toward the VR trend. Yet fully immersive VR movies aren’t the only way virtual reality will impact our viewing experience. Consider catching a baseball game from behind home plate. Or standing next to Lebron James as he makes an impressive dunk (from the comfort of your own home, of course). VR and AR could completely change the way we watch and experience the world.

Virtual Reality at Museums

Image courtesy of the Londonist.

3. At the Smithsonian

Museums are awesome, especially the ones with hands-on, interactive exhibits that really get you thinking. As VR becomes more mainstream, especially as an educational tool, you can bet that it will start popping up in museums. There are already a few exhibits around the world that utilize VR to transport visitors to an entirely different world.

4. In Games

While gaming isn’t the only place virtual reality is making a splash, it is where some of the coolest and most innovative VR and AR ideas are being tested. Developers are expanding their notion of traditional gaming to welcome in a new age of VR games. This summer at iD Tech, teens will learn to use Unreal Engine to develop games that can be played in virtual reality. By learning how to design for VR, they’ll gain a working knowledge of this important emerging technology.

5. On the Operating Table

Teegan Lexcen was born with half a heart, and many doctors were convinced that her condition made her inoperable. But Dr. Redmond Burke didn’t shy away from this complicated surgery. Instead, he used VR software and Google Cardboard to visualize Lexcen’s heart, acting out the various ways doctors could attempt the operation. On the day of the surgery, everything went well, in part because the doctors already knew the girl’s heart (literally) inside and out.

From visualization to enhanced training scenarios, VR and AR technology have great potential to help doctors, as well as scientists and engineers within fields like space exploration, robotics, or psychology.

Boy Using HTC Vive

6. On Our Smartphones

Pokémon Go was the summer’s biggest hit, and it’s not too hard to see why. A simple app turned our world into an augmented reality where small, colorful Pokémon could be found lurking in a kitchen cabinet or nestled behind your neighbor’s car. As more companies test the waters of VR and AR in their mobile gaming experiences, we’re sure to see a surge of VR in the App Store.

7. In Place of Storefronts

Online shopping is great, but there are certain items that you just need to see before you buy. So what if you could see that brand new couch sitting in your living room? What if you could “walk” through your favorite store in the mall to see what’s new for fall without ever leaving your bedroom. Companies recognize the buzz surrounding VR and AR and are quickly scrambling to hire developers who can utilize these technologies to encourage consumers to buy more.

VR Creates Endless Possibilities

The uses above are just the start. VR and AR technologies have the power to disrupt industries we haven’t even identified yet, meaning that students who study VR will have many jobs to pursue in the future.

We’re offering multiple VR courses for Summer 2017 so that kids and teens can start familiarizing themselves with this emerging technology. Registration opens on November 1, and we can’t wait to share all that we’ve been working on! Be sure to save the date and check back in a couple weeks to secure your spot.