One great principle that seems to follow business is “nothing succeeds like success.” It's a principle that's powered more than a few movies, not to mention books, webcomics, and especially video games
. But recent moves in the field of virtual reality have set some to thinking, is this the next big thing, and if so, where will the money go in terms of backing up new potential projects?
We're all familiar with new developments, like the Oculus Rift
VR headset, and to a lesser extent the Virtuix Omni treadmill. But reports are growing that suggest Virtuix is hopeful that the increasing popularity around the Oculus Rift will help drive interest in what could be its ultimate companion item, Virtuix's treadmill. We've already seen the two work in tandem together, and this pair produces a surprisingly immersive experience that might well be best described as Holodeck Version 0.5. Thanks to the growing popularity of the Oculus Rift, it stands to reason that the Virtuix Omni could take off right along side it; a recent interview between VentureBeat and Virtuix's chairman Jan Goetgeluk showed that there was certainly some potential afoot.
One of the biggest points to come out of the interview was that the sheer quantity of major tech backers getting into the field--like Marc Andreessen
, whose venture capital firm put a substantial investment in Oculus VR—indicates that VR's image as a failed fad is fading, and there's some major new opportunities coming into the field. Goetgeluk sees the field as essentially three-fold: the visual, as represented by the Oculus Rift, motion as represented by the Omni, and movement tracking, which comes in with things like the Sixense. Further devices could also come into play to augment the experience, like a vest for haptic feedback or other such devices.
This particular development needs to be taken with a grain of salt, however, due to sheer utility. See, the Oculus Rift provides the visual, and that's important. But visual has more than one potential use; not only can the Oculus Rift be used with video games, but there have also been suggestions that this could be put to work with movies and television shows as well for an even more immersive video experience than normal. While the Virtuix Omni is impressive by most any metric you care to apply, it does just one thing: it's a game controller. Yes, it's perhaps the healthiest game controller on the face of the earth, but it doesn't have the versatility of the Oculus Rift. Start getting down into the ultra-specific stuff, the real minutiae, and the end result is some very specialized stuff that's likely going to be sold in lower quantities than the Rift.
Basically, even non-gamers would buy the Rift. Only gamers would buy everything else. So while there's a lot of potential here for other gaming peripherals to gain ground in the face of the Oculus Rift's advances, a note of caution is called for. We may be looking at the dawn of a whole new era, but it may not be a well-populated era.