If you want to understand the virtual reality “landscape”, you could hardly do better than have a read of a very interesting (and quite long) feature in The Verge which takes a look at the many worlds of virtual reality, from its very beginnings to the present-day situation.
It’s a fascinating read, and well-structured so that you can skip around the various sections of the feature. The feature is also chock full of comments and interviews with the VR inventors and start-up entrepreneurs, talking about their challenges and their view of what the future holds. But they also make a lot of thought-provoking comments.
These range from the cautionary and concerned to the inspiring, as well-illustrated on page 6 in the interview with Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired magazine and Jaron Lanier, founder of VPL .
How will all this affect the way we search?
Perhaps one day we’ll use VR to “visit” the famous libraries of the world, browse their bookshelves and select books to borrow or click to read chapters. Or maybe we’ll just go directly into the environment we’re researching and bypass the printed word altogether – virtual interviews, immersive experiences. Want to know about the oceans? Go diving in the Mediterranean. Want to know how the Anglo-Saxons lived? Walk around a virtual Anglo-Saxon village. How about medical devices or a new surgical procedure? Maybe best not to eat your lunch just yet.
The above speculations may not be how it turns out, but I’ve little doubt that the way we search will radically change over the next 10-20 years. Unsurprisingly, Google is already involved having invested $542m in Magic Leap last year, and Facebook owns Oculus VR. The new may co-exist with the old, but the new will probably make our current browser-based search boxes look rather “yesterday”.