A few years ago VR was on everyone’s lips. It was back. The immersive gaming platform had returned from the dark depths of the 1990s from such failures as Nintendo’s short-lived Virtual Boy, Sega VR, Virtuality, and Tiger R-zone, a Virtual Boy knock off that was just as bad.
Technology had grown, innovations had been made, it seemed that this time it could be different, this time it could work. And those who held hope were right, in 2016 investments in VR/AR Tripled; the VR market was alive and well. Facebook, HTC, Google, along with a list of start-up companies released VR headsets. Soon after, Tesla released a haptic suit that allowed users to sense touch and heat, and filmmakers began experimenting with VR in their films. The possibilities of VR seemed to be infinite, even beyond gaming, leaving enthusiasts to question, what’s next?
Well, if you were to ask NextVR, a California based company, they’d tell you the next big thing for VR is at home live events. That’s right, instead of getting dressed, filling up the gas tank and heading over to the Hollywood Bowl, NextVR predicts a future of going to a live concert all from the comfort of your couch. Just last year, the company struck a deal with LiveNation to broadcast hundreds of upcoming concerts in virtual reality. And it doesn’t stop at concerts. The company also partnered with the NFL, NBA League Pass, NBC Sports, Fox Sports VR and the International Champions Cup (ICC) an annual summer soccer tournament. With partnerships like these it would be safe to say that there is much confidence in live VR events. In fact, a Goldman Sachs report, published late year estimated that the live VR experience would be worth $4.1 billion by 2025.
And NextVR isn’t the only one trying to cash in on that nice chunk of cash. Intel has thrown its hat in the ring too with the purchase of Voke, another VR company who focuses on bringing live events to the home. Voke’s technology was used for live VR streams of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup.
“Imagine being able to witness a slam dunk from the defender’s perspective or the defensive rush from the quarterback’s perspective,” Intel said in a press release. “This kind of experience may sound futuristic, but it’s closer than you think.”
And it is, of course the technology still poses some of the same challenges as viewing any event in virtual reality today — you have to strap on a headset, making the experience potentially both costly and unsociable. And there is a chance of at home disturbances that can easily take one out of the live concert feeling, no chance of meeting new people, no chance of a spontaneous adventure that some look for when they go out, but hey, at least the food is free.
Ok, so maybe virtual reality concerts aren’t as good as the real deal just yet, but if you’re trying to attend a concert that’s not in your reach, it’s the next best thing, and if you like concerts, but don’t like people, it’s even better. But for those who are still not sold on the potential of VR live events just wait, with the investments being made into the industry, it wouldn’t be crazy to imagine a future where VR concerts are just as entertaining as the real thing.