This post is part of our new VR Influencer series where we interview the world's leading VR experts to get their take on the state of the industry, the top trends to watch for, and what the future holds.
The following is an interview we recently had with Nick Pettit, teacher at Treehouse and VR/AR developer.
1. What are the top trends you have noticed in VR?
NP: VR didn't reach mass market adoption as quickly as some enthusiasts thought it would (myself included). However, I think the biggest trend right now is simply persistence. Despite the slower-than-expected growth, many developers have decided to stick it out and continue innovating. Staying in it for the long-term is difficult.
2. What applications for VR make it a game changer in the tech sphere?
NP: I might get some heat for this, but I think VR is still an entertainment technology (and that's fine). I've seen some successful applications of the tech outside of entertainment, particularly in architecture, but I think it's actually AR that's going to change the way the world computes.
I do think AR and VR will still co-exist peacefully because they're good at different things. And eventually, I think we'll have devices that can practically and affordably do both.
3. What is, in your opinion, the industry in which VR has the greatest disruptive impact?
NP: Anything that's meant to be immersive, particularly games and movies. VR has been used on a few roller coasters in a limited capacity, but as an Orlando resident, I'm looking forward to more “VR first” experiences coming to theme parks, in the same spirit as The VOID.
4. Would you say that the VR industry is evolving as rapidly as you anticipated, less rapidly, or about as expected? What makes you say this?
NP: Much less rapidly. I thought the tech was a huge game changer in every vertical, but the practical everyday applications still haven't materialized. Some people blame cost, and I think that is part of it, but the cost hasn't stopped the mass adoption of smartphones which are on a similar price curve.
5. What do you see as the most difficult-to-overcome limitations for VR?
NP: I think the tech is advancing much more rapidly than the state of software design. It's just really difficult to create spatially designed software. We've had 30+ years to perfect computing with a bitmapped 2D display, and I think the leap to 3D is going to take just as long for software developers to wrap their heads around.
6. What’s the future of VR?
NP: In the short term, I expect more cool gaming experiences! VR is great for exploring surreal ideas, flying in spaceships, blasting zombies, and so forth. Over the next few years and decades, I think VR and AR will converge into a single device and software continuum, and we might not even use those terms to describe it anymore. I'm hoping the added practicality of a single device for both AR and VR will encourage adoption because that will increase the commercial viability of more niche ideas.
About Nick Pettit
Nick Pettit is a teacher at an online technology school called Treehouse. Over the last decade, he's taught many subjects including web design, game development, virtual reality, and machine learning.
Nick is also active in his local Orlando indie game community. He’s a co-founder of the Orlando Virtual Reality meetup group and he regularly participates in other meetups and community events. His original VR and AR titles have been published on PlayStation 4, Steam, Google Play, and the App Store.