The Rise of VR: Assessing the Risks and Benefits

Virtual reality (VR) has gone from science fiction to reality — all thanks to rapid developments in digital technology. Tech giants including Facebook, Samsung, and Google have invested hefty amounts in VR for the past few years. But as VR becomes adopted by more and more people, are there any risks to note?

Growth of Virtual Reality

VR, along with augmented reality (AR), is experiencing growth on a global scale. However, its rise hasn’t been as fast as analysts expected. Consumers and industries alike are aware of this new tech, but VR simply has yet to reach the mainstream market. Still, its development at this point is commendable.

This year, researchers note that the VR and AR market will have total sales amounting to more than $20 billion this year. That’s a significant leap from last year’s total of just about $12 billion. Virtual reality is clearly still just in its infancy, but the interest is there for both the goods and the services.

Analysts also believe that VR will continue to improve in sales with each succeeding year up until 2022. The expectation is quite robust; growth is forecasted to rise by almost 70 percent on an annual basis. One thing is clear: It’s the consumer that plays the biggest role in the surge of interest toward VR tech.

Video Games and Immersive Entertainment

For this year, the world of gaming will continue to be the driving force of VR. There aren’t even any big-budget titles designed specifically for VR, yet the video games now are enough to keep people buying VR devices. It helps that acclaimed titles such as Skyrim and Fallout 4 finally have their own VR variants.

Another game title worth noting is VRChat, which was actually released in February 2017. It has gained some traction thanks to popular YouTube and Twitch streamers. VRChat still in Early Acces Mode, but that hasn’t stopped it from amassing tons of unique communities — all thanks to its customization tools.

Moreover, there are tons of basic yet entertaining mobile games in the market. They don’t do much other than simulate real-life experiences such as riding a rollercoaster or going through a haunted house booth, but they provide these in a convenient manner. Users don’t have to go out of the house to enjoy.

The second biggest segment is all about VR videos. People already spend a lot of time browsing YouTube, Vimeo, and other video streaming sites. What if users can view high-definition VR videos? It would allow them to see things from a different perspective; it’s an entirely new, immersive experience — a big sell.

Benefits of VR in Other Areas

Virtual reality is not just about games and entertaining video content. For one, the health sector may have found a way to utilise the technology. In particular, there’s a discussion about how VR could help distract patients from physical pain and stress as they undergo treatment, labor, or any other operation.

Moreover, VR has grabbed the attention of big companies looking to train their workforce. In particular, Walmart recently acquired thousands of virtual reality headsets for its employees. The goal is to allow them to experience what it’s like to handle a surge of people entering the store during the holidays.

This way, Walmart employees can arrive prepared for the crowd chaos. The VR tech helps them see the possible customer problems that may occur when it actually happens in the future. What’s great is that Walmart doesn’t even have to spend more — the employees can use the training anytime they want.

Thus, the tech provides flexibility. If an employee finishes the training quicker than others, they can stop and resume working. They don’t have to wait for others to finish the training. Similarly, VR could assist pilot trainees in handling emergency situations through simulations.

Security Issues in Using VR

Like any form of digital tech, there are cybersecurity issues lingering with virtual reality. For one, VR devices are filled with sensors that gather a ton of data about the user — it’s a source of big data. And while the information could improve your VR experience, the data may be sent to third-party entities.

VR companies should be transparent about what type of data they collect. Furthermore, users should know where the data is stored and where it may go. If a VR device or service offers integration with your social media accounts, it should have several encryption features to keep hackers at bay.

If a VR company cannot keep credit card or any personal info safe and secure, it could lead to identity theft and financial loss for thousands of consumers. There’s also the case of VR experiences being manipulated. A hacked headset may lead to a kid seeing adult content while watching a children’s show.

As VR systems continue to work with third-party services, they must invest further in better network encryption features. User privacy could be compromised if VR apps store the data in unprotected computers or servers. Thus, VR security it’s a matter of improving both the hardware and software.