Social VR: Technologies that connect people
Social is such a buzz word these days in everything I read or watch about online marketing; a short code for masses of people. But since the web came to consumers in the early nineties, social is precisely the reason we spent time “there” rather than just looking stuff up. I mean, you don’t hang around a dictionary, it’s not a gathering place.
The opposite is true online, it is a place, or places, many of them flat spaces for words and pictures. I bet you are on one of those sites right now. But there have also always been places online that try to create a visual space for inhabitants to interact within. Whether it be online gaming or virtual worlds, the urge to materialize in cyberspace continues to tantalize.
This year’s release of consumer virtual reality displays is about to boost those interactive social experiences from realistic, to real. A relatively small leap for an industry that has been building prototypes of a common metaverse for over a decade. But from a user experience, the amplification of desktop virtual worlds into SocialVR will forever revolutionize the way people socialize, and render transform common conceptions of presence and distance.
Many virtual worlds, like Second Life, already port their experience into a VR view. And SL founder Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity aims to solve many issues of the original. Of course, Facebook has a key stake in the outcome of VR, an outcome that Mark Zuckerberg recently noted may take up to “ten years” to realize. Will Facebook become the cornerstone of a new SocialVR ecosystem? Absolutely one of them.
As the viewer technologies become common, the rediscovery of SocialVR will take place, but at a higher experiential level. These environments will become ideal proving grounds for VR experiences that seek to connect people through collaboration.
Watch for SocialVR to gain momentum Q2 2017.
Ken is the Founder and CEO of Sage Immersive Realities Inc. He is a visionary interactive designer working with an international team of serious gaming professionals who are defining the leading edge of virtual reality and meaningful gaming experiences.