The Curious Case of Hating Innovation in VR

Blog Posts ,Random Musings ,Virtual Reality
March 2, 2016

There is one thing that I liked better when today’s VR headsets were still at developer kit levels and generally going unnoticed by the mainstream: the lack of articles denouncing why virtual reality will “fail”.

Here’s an example – go ahead, click it and read. I’ll wait.

Oh, my bad. That was an article about how the iPhone was going to fail.

Some people really get behind the idea that they are smarter than a big corporation. They want to see themselves making a judgement call that the average person, or CTO, won’t see. They will feel warm and fuzzy inside by making grandiose statements about technologies in the hope of being right. They predict an upset, and are right? They get credibility for being a visionary and understanding trends better than Google, Microsoft, HTC, Valve, Facebook, Samsung… to name a few small players. They predict an upset, and get it wrong? No one remembers… and no one gives a crap. It’s a no-lose scenario.

I am not going to sit and force anyone to “believe” in a technology that has the potential to fundamentally change the entire way we as humans can understand and interact with virtual worlds and all of the 200+ terabytes of data that we’ve been collecting over the past decades. I am not going to pretend that I have all of the answers – it might be 2 years, it might be 10, or half a century – but the truth is, what’s happening right now is some truly revolutionary and epic shit.

I am constantly amazed at people who think that they will be right about an entire field of science or technology failing. We are literally carrying around devices with more computational power than the technology from when we sent people to SPACE.

Let’s just stop for a second and even consider “failure”. The advancements made in immersive technologies over the past several years has helped inspire new generations of developers and begun showing huge promise in a number of fields. Google Cardboard has literally saved lives. People within the VR industry are constantly discovering new ways to showcase human creativity and art forms. What does saying “VR” fails even mean?

I doubt the baby who is still alive because of VR will think that it’s a failed technology if a certain number of headsets aren’t sold within the first X months of release.

Technology evolves in different forms. Virtual reality is an entire field of technology, with thousands of different use cases, that augments the way we interact with visual data. It’s not a single piece of consumer hardware (I’m looking at you, people who think VR = 3D TV) that is highly specialized. It’s not locked into only one company creating content for it, and there is a ton of content being created right now.

Is today’s VR expensive? Sure – probably relative to what an average consumer spends on “digital devices” in 2016 dollars. Is it prohibitively expensive? Not even close.

Consumer technology doesn’t just magically appear at a price point that makes it feasible for daily use right off the bat. If this were the case, Research and Development wouldn’t be a thing, and all technology would be perfect the first time it was ever released. This isn’t how technology works. This isn’t how anything works. Trial, error, repeat is how things evolve and change into better, cheaper things.

If you are going to predict VR is a failure, at least define what your definition of failure even is and don’t treat your opinion as fact. Otherwise, you look like someone whiny who just wants to feel smart, and that makes you look dumb.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying people shouldn’t be skeptical, or critical, or curious, or passionate. I understand that your opinion about the technology is just that – an opinion. I’m not saying that VR is going to be an immediate success, and that if you disagree you’re wrong – I’m just saying that no one benefits from the types of articles I’ve been seeing that essentially boil down to a list of reasons that SOME PEOPLE find off-putting about the technology. I don’t like bananas – that doesn’t mean that I’m going to sit down and say that bananas are going to fail. Roller coasters make me sick, but I still ride them.

Not liking someone and generalizing the entire planet’s experience to match yours != fact.

But hey. That’s just my opinion.

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3 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Hating Innovation in VR”

  1. sheesh says:

    terabytes, not terrabytes

    1. misslivirose says:

      Ack, good catch! Thanks. Fixed.

  2. okreylos says:

    Well put. I’ve been trying to get into people’s heads that VR is already successful, by the metric of what has been accomplished using it, and has been successful for a long time. As far as I’m concerned, “success” isn’t defined by a magical number of sold units.

    “Mainstream success” by whatever measure would be a nice bonus to get prices down and create a wider selection of available devices. I mean, VR didn’t really come together until the advent of high-performance consumer-level 3D graphics cards, enabled by the mainstream success of 3D gaming. It would be nice to take that to the next level.

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