Throughout 2017, we’ve seen virtual reality becoming more popular. It’s true that some of the best equipment for VR is still very expensive, so in one sense it’s not exactly common yet. But consumers are coming to better understand the capabilities of the technology, and there are certainly more affordable headsets and systems available. As this transition has occurred, we’ve also begun to see new purposes for VR emerging, and one of the most exciting among them is travel.
In one sense, we’re already witnessing the concept of travel – or at least its potential – through apps built for other activities. Of course, your average VR game is designed to take you into a new environment, and some are based on real world places. But some games and similar apps could more directly involve the real world. The chief example right now is probably in the exercise sector, where there are already cycling app prototypes that take your cycling workouts to the streets. Using Google Street View and other programs, these systems can make you feel as if you’re actually biking through the world when in reality you’re safe at home on an exercise bike.
Right now most of the content in these games is still animated, but there are a few card games and slot lobbies that closely resemble real casinos. That opens the door to an interesting concept of games mirroring actual establishments that people might otherwise travel halfway across the world to visit.
Potential For Real World Immersion
Both of the examples listed above demonstrate more than just the capabilities of VR and the creativity of a handful of developers. Rather, they speak to the possibility of real world immersion through this medium. The truth at this point is that cycling, casino, and other activity-related apps show you relatively limited environments. They get the job done for their respective activities, but they’re more about those experiences than about the environments involved. The potential is for us to see apps that focus more on the actual environments. In other words, there could soon be apps designed just to show us different parts of the world.
As it happens, some of those apps – the ones used to show us different parts of the world – are already beginning to emerge, even if they’re not getting a whole lot of publicity. There has actually been talk of travel booking websites and agencies developing their own apps in this area, which is an interesting idea to consider. That could essentially monetize the apps, as they would become useful for incentivizing people to want to visit certain areas. However, right now they appear to be largely experimental in nature.
Digital Trends took a look at a few apps that will give you a taste of virtual travel, and pointed out some pretty inspiring examples. For instance, Google Earth VR allows you to start in space and , with a bird’s eye view, explore any place in the world, essentially “flying” from one major city or landmark to another. It’s an astounding tool that can almost literally show you the entire world. Boulevard, another app, functions more like an adaptation of the casino concept in that it shows you famous interiors, such as museums and other cultural sites around Europe.
These are just a few programs, but they reveal that VR is already becoming pretty interesting for those who like to travel. It’s still no substitute for actually getting out in the world, but it’s certainly going to be a wonderful alternative for those of us with wanderlust when we’re stuck at home!