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James Maguire at Datamation, a sister site of Codeguru, chatted with Robert Scoble about Virtual Reality. He asked Robert when be realized that Virtual Reality had the potential to make an impact on the industry. I've included the discussion here:
I'm clearly a fan of Virtual Reality. While many believe there is huge potential for Virtual Reality, I thought the same thing back in the 80s and 90s when Virtuosity launched, and then later when technologies like VRML hit the scene. As people quickly learned, the hardware and software in the 80s and 90s wasn't up to the challenges posed by virtual reality. Today's technology with its faster graphics processors and better screen resolutions along with the influx of good sensors improves the VR experience.
More importantly, the entry level cost has dropped drastically. You can actually use a standard smart phone along with cheap head display to get an entry level look at VR. This can be something as simple as the Google Cardboard. While this experience is not great, it is much better than what you were generally able to find just a few years ago. More importantly, for a few hundred dollars, you can get a more full featured devices, that allows position tracking and directional sound resulting in a much better experience.
Regardless of the hype, virtual reality still has limited application. Technologies such as augmented and mixed reality have a higher potential for mainstream application and acceptance since they allows you to interact with what is around you while applying virutal overlays.
For developers, all of the flavors of mixing reality with graphics can be approached in a similar manner with similar tools. Tools such as Unity, which has been used for gaming, are being adapted to VR. This use of preexisting tools is helping to reduce the learning curve for developers wanting to move to to building solutions for mixed reality.
It is all still early, and many people have yet to even demo the VR solutions available. Have you tried any of the virtual or augmented devices? Have you used your phone in a VR display device? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you think it has potential? Share your thoughts in the comments here or on the Codeguru forums!
Here's Robert's views on how far we are from mainstream use of VR: