Virtual reality: No one is actually buying 2016’s hottest tech
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PlayStation VR has joined the wave of new virtual reality gear, but will it ever have mainstream appeal? Hal Hodson investigates
@newscientist: Virtual reality: No one is actually buying 2016’s hottest tech
IF YOU believe the hype, 2016 is the year of virtual reality. Long thought to be a technological dead end, VR began its comeback in 2012, when an upstart called the Oculus Rift took the internet by storm with its promises of a fully immersive environment.
Tech giants scrambled to make their own headsets – Sony’s PlayStation VR, released this week, is the latest. Now that these devices are finally on the market, we’re starting to figure out how they might fit into our lives.
Facebook, which bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, has anointed VR as the technology that will supersede smartphones as the primary medium for digital life. “We are here to make VR the next major computing platform,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg at an Oculus conference last week. But it seems the general public isn’t buying into this brave new world – sales of high-end goggles are tiny and hardly growing. Could it be that while people are happy to paw at a screen, they don’t want one inches from their eyeballs?
VR has burned out before. In the 1990s, bulky VR booths started showing up in cinemas, and Nintendo launched its Virtual Boy headset in 1995. But the bubble quickly burst as people found the creaking tech to be a lacklustre experience, and the Virtual Boy was discontinued after a year of disappointing sales (see chart).
“VR has burned out before – in the 1990s people found the creaking tech to be a lacklustre experience“
This time is different, says Tobias Höllerer at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “For …
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