2016: The Year of Virtual Reality

Jillian Gannon, Staff Reporter

On Feb. 15, 1946, the first electronic computer was introduced to the public. The ENIAC, as it was called, weighed over 30 tons and took up an entire room. When it was revealed, it was considered an immense breakthrough in technology.


70 years later, virtual reality (VR) is the newest technological breakthrough.


Virtual reality, by definition, is a computer simulation of a 3D image. People use the VR technology via gloves, electronic equipment, or through a headset, which is most common. VR tech mocks various sensory experiences, (sight, hearing, touch, smell…) thus the name ‘virtual reality.’


The first consumer-marketed and the most well known virtual reality technology is produced by Oculus, via a headset entitled Oculus Rift.


No matter how accepted it is by the public, there are people who believe that VR tech won’t live up to everyone’s expectations.


Jason Wood, teacher of the Video Game Marketing and Design class at Washington High School, believes that VR will take some time to develop fully. “[VR is] still in fledgling stages but it still has some positive effects,” Wood said.


Virtual reality comes in many different forms: some depending on the consumer interaction with the VR tech and others depending on how the virtual worlds are created. “[One form of virtual reality is] taking [images] of the classroom from all angles, [then] putting me in Oculus technology,” Wood said.


It will allow the person using the Oculus tech to virtually enter the room and look around. Wood describes it as more practical and realistic than other forms of virtual reality.


Despite the many upsides there are to VR technology, there are a few downsides. The main downside is the expensive price to pay to own virtual reality technology. For one, the price is around $1,500 plus for both a computer and the VR technology. The headset itself is slated to cost around $600 to $300, but the average computer that can run the virtual reality technology has been projected to cost roughly $1,200. The prices vary depending on the company who creates it as well as the quality of the VR technology itself.


Another issue with virtual reality is that the public may expect too much too soon, the occurrence of which will discourage them from purchasing virtual reality technology in the future.


2016 is widely considered to be the year of virtual reality. The future is just beginning.