Last year at the Capital Home Show we set up a Virtual Reality demonstration, allowing show goers to explore the inside of a computer generated building. The initial impression that we got was the typical stereotype: the younger crowd was excited to use the new technology, with the older generation being skeptical of its use. During the show we also asked volunteers to fill out a quick survey about the experience, and some of the results we got were surprising.
Despite the idea that the older crowd is not interested in technology, over 60% of the people that wanted to try out the headset were over forty. So what’s the real story behind the discrepancy of who seemed excited about Virtual Reality during the show and the numbers from our survey? One possibility is the challenge of setting up the headset and the software that it needs to run. Right now Virtual Reality headsets are mainly geared towards video games, and converting that system to display finished, the opinion of the older generation for the Virtual Reality experience seems to be quite positive.
Another question we asked was what devices people used. Most of the people that tried out our Virtual Reality experience had some sort of computer or tablet, and only a few people didn’t own a smartphone. With such an abundance of smartphones, the accessibility of Virtual Reality has never been higher. Companies like google are mass producing cheap ways to turn smartphones into miniature Virtual Reality headsets, putting the power of the virtual world into the hands of the average person, even if they aren’t as powerful as dedicated equipment. Now anyone with a smartphone and fifteen dollars can explore both real and conceptual buildings while comfortably sitting in their own home.
There are still some challenges in using Virtual Reality; it can be difficult to transfer models between software, high quality headsets can be expensive, and there are latency issues that give some people motion sickness. Even with these challenges more and more people are willing to try it out. The technology, both on the software and hardware sides, is only getting cheaper and more accessible as time goes on as well. Will Virtual Reality soon be the new standard for viewing? Probably not, but it certainly will be playing an increasing role in the future.