Virtual Reality: Past, Present and Future

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In this week’s post we will offer a brief introduction to the theme of Virtual Reality and, later, we will talk about it’s different applications to the corporate world.

Seen for many years as an eternal promise, Virtual Reality has shown in 2016 that the technology has not only matured, but is likely to become one of the main vehicles for innovation beginning in 2017. Companies in several sectors, from Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook, to more traditional firms like Sony, together with new players, have begun betting heavily in this technology that is expected to generate around 162 billion dollars by 2020.

But after all, what is Virtual Reality?

More than a single appliance, Virtual Reality is an ecosystem of technologies and languages that enable the user to feel immersed in a reality that is entirely digitally simulated.

Unlike Augmented Reality, where virtual information is superimposed onto reality in a regular screen, VR can isolate the user from the outside world through a visor that covers his field of vision. Sensors then enable this digital image to be seen from any angle in a natural way, as the user moves through the real space. In this language the user not only sees the information in a screen, but feels his body present in it.

The illusion of being present in this digital world is called “presence” and was already being studied in the 60s. But it was during the 90s that the term became popular, generating huge expectations that the future of Virtual Reality had finally arrived.

However, the challenges of digitally uniting the senses of vision and movement in a convincing and comfortable way have proven to be too high for the technologies of the time. In this way, Virtual Reality dropped out of the mainstream, but the interests in it’s development continued discreetly, now in the hands of a new generation of entrepreneurs.

In 2012, Palmer Luckey started a Kickstarter to create a new generation of Virtual Reality visors called Oculus Rift. The campaign was a success, renewing interest in this technology and culminating in the acquisition of Oculus by Facebook for 3 billion dollars. In a short time, dozens of new visors entered the market.

Virtual Reality and the user experience

With the growing availability of Virtual Reality, more industries and services can explore its qualities. For example, from a practical standpoint, the immersion in this virtual environment can help users and consumers to understand and explore benefits and particulars of various products and services in a different way from that which they are used to.

Due to the nature of this technology and the processes through which people interact with it (through the eyes and their presence in this virtual context), their experiences become unique and ludic, creating an emotional connection to the various aspects and information presented in these simulations.

Final thoughts

The use of virtual reality by companies of various sectors (not just technology), increasingly favors its dissemination in the market, creating a group of avid players who use it for several ends (commercial, medical, recreational and educational, for instance). Soon, the bigger the demand, the bigger the chances that innovative applications will come about, for this technological resource.

Lastly, this growing trend (the use of Virtual Reality) can open new opportunities for the development of innovative solutions and engaging the final user in a unique and surprising way. MJV, in line with this movement, has been using this technology to deliver more value to their partners through exclusive projects.
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