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by Nicholas Pell
The Internet has changed the way we entertain ourselves.
Television is no longer something that is turned on to play in the background of our lives -- it's something that we choose, both the when and the where. What's more, there are more options for what to watch because people produce television shows for the Internet and mobile. Mobile gaming is another example of our entertainment habits shifting due to new platforms.
Now, the next change is virtual reality. What is it and how will it change how we spend our free time?
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is an immersive form of media. Rather than looking at a screen, you wear the screen around your eyes as goggles. When you move your head, your perspective of the media moves along with them. There was a brief fad of virtual reality during the height of mainstream "cyberpunk" consciousness in the 1990s. Now, however, the technologies are at a much higher state, making it less of an idle curiosity and more of an emerging media in its own right.
There are virtual reality applications beyond entertainment. For example -- in theory --surgeons can conduct surgery from afar using virtual reality. Things like this are currently already in development -- this just being one reason why virtual reality is poised to become a platform as massive as mobile and sooner than we all think.
Why Will Virtual Reality Become Big?
In part because media companies are backing it to be. No less an authority on the future of digital media than Sky is putting funding into making virtual reality, VR, the wave of the future. Sky will be taking VR beyond idle curiosity and articles on tech websites and into the realm of tangible entertainment for the average consumer. They're looking to deliver sports, news and other forms of entertainment to their customers sooner rather than later.
Sky will release at least 20 VR experiences this calendar year, including boxing and the Tour de France. This will allow you to be up close and personal in a way you never could through two-dimensional entertainment.
There will be a need for a new investment in new infrastructure to experience the virtual reality broadcasts. Just like high-speed Internet or video on demand, the initial rollout will appeal mostly to early adopters. Then it will trickle down to the rest of us as prices drop. Still, one thing is for sure -- you'll be experiencing virtual reality and likely sooner than you think.