VRX 2016: The Future of Virtual Reality

At VRX 2016 Conference and Expo, held in San Francisco over December 7th and 8th, all of the top minds in VR were present.

2016 has been an eventful year for virtual reality. With the release of the consumer unit for the Oculus Rift as well as the release of the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, there are hopes that this year will not be another VR failure.

We’ve gone far in the past twenty-one years. The Nintendo Virtual Boy, released in 1995, was a clunky piece of equipment that forced players to sit in an uncomfortable position to play. Now the Rift, Vive, and PS VR are easier to wear and use, but what’s the future for virtual reality? Will it stay around this time? The VRX 2016 Conference and Expo says “yes.”

HTC Vive VP of VR, Joel Breton. Photo Credit: HTC Vive
HTC Vive VP of VR, Joel Breton. Photo Credit: HTC Vive

Joel Breton, the keynote speaker and VP of VR content with the HTC Vive, expressed his excitement about the accessibility of the Vive. He was quoted as saying “anyone with a Vive is a developer and creator” by Twitter user Chris Chin.

HTC Vive and Joel Breton seem driven to give consumers the best experiences they can.  Today HTC Vive announced the release of Vive Studios. Vive Studios will be a content publisher intended to assist in producing content not just in house, but also for external developers. HTC Vive seems dedicated to bringing room sized 360 degree virtual reality to the masses.

Leopoly ShapeLab shows its intentions. Photo Credit: Leopoly
Leopoly ShapeLab shows its intentions. Photo Credit: Leopoly

Leopoly, a company leading in digital personalization and 3D printing, announced a VR app at VRX 2016 as well. ShapeLab is a VR creation app that will pair with Steam and HTC Vive. The idea behind the app is similar to Tilt Brush by Google, mixing VR art with 3D printing.  Players and businesses alike will not only be able to create, but print their creations. The possibilities for this tech are endless.  This could become a new form of art, if given the chance.

While VRX 2016 shows clear positive points in VR and that growth is possible, some issues remain. VR equipment is still pricy, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift both priced at around $799.99.  The PSVR starter kit is priced around $499.99. PSVR sales did not reach what had been expected, though if you try to find one on Amazon they’re all sold out. Best Buy as well. Supply seems lower than demand, but the VR industry is hopeful that the numbers will rise come 2020.

Arcade Saga. Photo Credit: HTC Vive
Arcade Saga. Photo Credit: HTC Vive

As HTC Vive steps up with opportunities like Vive Studios and Arcade Saga, the VR future looks promising.  Oculus Rift is already looking at a second consumer edition, and PlayStation VR paired with Resident Evil 7 (slated for release in January 2017) could be one of the first killer apps. Price points will most likely start to drop in the next couple of years, making VR more accessible. Unlike 21 years ago, it looks like VR is in it for the long haul and ready to work to keep it’s place.

Elisabeth Sills
Lifelong gamer and writer starting with the Commadore 64 all the way to the XBox One.

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