Virtual or otherwise, the conversation about reality has been brewing for quite some time. With recent news that Samsung is working with the NBA to bring a streaming VR experience to its device owners, I wonder whether virtual reality is the entertainment platform of the future, or a ridiculously cool innovation that remains in the novelty/specialty category.
Personally, I feel like genuine experiences will outweigh the coolness of VR/AR down the road. While virtual experiences will offer an amazing opportunity to escape to far off lands, access exclusive events, and see life from multiple perspectives, there is one crucial element missing:
While VR can take me to Florence, it cannot give me the feeling I had when I actually went there of sitting on the stone steps of a building hundreds, or even thousands of years old, sipping a Tuscan red, breathing in the air, and snapping ridiculous selfies with the girlfriend.
As a teaching tool, VR is promising. Being inside the ruins of ancient Greece while learning about the Trojan War would be epic. As an entertainment device, playing a gladiator game inside the actual Colosseum is a fun idea.
But as a replacement for authentic experiences, VR won't be able to measure up. In the case of the NBA, creating a more enriching arena experience - how fans view the game, what technology is available at their seats, how they can share what they're doing with their friends that aren't with them... that will be where the big need and opportunities will be.