If there's one thing that gets the film industry buzzing as much as a profitable blockbuster, it's a new toy that will help make the next blockbuster. 3D was the next big thing for a while, until something else took over: virtual reality. It's currently sweeping the gaming and film industries and much more: it's changing the world. Let us count the ways...
Alter the senses
The immersive quality of virtual reality, overtaking your viewing and hearing abilities, is so powerful that, when it comes to telling stories or setting you in a different environment, you completely disappear into another world.
This eerie sensation that affects the body is about the gap between where you really are (and you actually know where you are) and the information that is received by your eyes and ears. The two latter senses are so primal and overpowering that they take over.
Shift daily life
Virtual reality is not just about the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, or transporting you into entirely different places. At the heart of the technology is that the world that has been programmed into the VR experience can be entirely fictional or replicate reality. That is in part how Pokémon Go draws its success.
That 'mixed reality' or 'augmented reality' has applications for gaming, but it also has applications to help with the most mundane tasks, and devices could show you the name of that neighbour who's passing by.
Improve your health
Of course, VR has applications for everyone in our daily life. It can also have stunning uses: think of a doctor who has a skill that no other doctor has, and only they can operate - but they're on holiday on the other side of the world. Never mind, they can put their headset on and control a robot in the operating room that is going to replicate their movement.
By mapping out digital environments, whether they're real or fictional, VR will take the training of pilots to entirely new levels. It will also better prepare soldiers by enabling them to scope out the terrain before they are actually dropped on the battlefield, and help automated cars.
Tell more stories
Of course, virtual reality lends itself perfectly to creating fictional universes and finding new ways of telling immersive stories. There have been incredible shorts and VR experiences created, by Pixar and many others, and 360 is having its moment as a promotional device.
Wild was promoted with a tie-in 360 experience, but that indie is soon to be surpassed by Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated Ready Player One, which will have a promotional tie-in VR experience. It's spookily fitting, as the original novel was a dystopian exploration of a world in which people live in poverty, but can access a dream world to escape their reality in virtual reality.
When reality catches up with anticipation...