Those of us who love virtual reality also know that we are far from the tipping point, when it will become a must-have for the majority of the population.
In my view, a device that allows me to sit down, face-to-face, with distant friends and family in a Japanese garden, to catch up in person without the expense of a plane ticket, is a must-have!
But till most of your friends and family buy the device and can actually join you in that Japanese garden, you won’t feel the urgency. You’ll keep meeting people on Zoom.
VR will be essential once it becomes a way that most of the people you know communicate, like Facebook ten years ago, or the telephone in the early 20th century.
If people start to do business in VR, it can become to office communications today what email became in the 1990s. It may be that having a job without a VR headset will someday be like having a job without an email account. That sounds ridiculous, but not so long ago, we all went to work at offices with no email!
But entertainment also offers a way in. Think about TV. No one saw the need to buy the expensive box when radio was a perfectly acceptable entertainment medium. But then along came Milton Berle and his Texaco Star Theatre on NBC, which no one could see without a television. And people bought televisions!
So what VR needs is entertainment that you can watch only in VR. Imagine a TV show with the popularity of The Sopranos that would push audiences into VR the way Tony once pushed audiences onto the HBO platform.
Till we await a must-see $100 million movie that plays only in immersive VR, a few stars are making a first tentative venture into the new medium. And thanks to them!
This Friday, beloved Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson headlines at the VR-only “Failed to Render” comedy club, a beautiful venue that often features open-mic comedians, as well as musical acts.
This won’t be the event that drives the masses to VR (after all, there’s no shortage of Kenan on television screens these days), but it is an excellent start.