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4 top predictions for the growth of virtual reality

Over the past few decades technologies surrounding virtual reality have improved immensely. Virtual reality was once a pipe dream of video game developers and futurists. Now, however, VR is a legitimate form of not only entertainment but for instruction and enrichment.

According to Statista, VR is set to generate upwards of $20 billion by 2020. As the market expands and as the technology advances, will see even greater innovations for VR.

Here are four top predictions for VR:

1. More applications of VR in journalism

When we think of VR, our minds often conjure up images of video game experiences, interactive films, and traveling to exotic settings.

VR spans much further than that, however. The immensely popular PlayStation VR and its many games are often eclipsed by the innovative uses of VR found in journalism. This isn’t surprising given the weight VR gives real stories.

The New York Times has already used VR to immerse viewers in the world of others. Coverage from Syria, stories following refugees, becomes a far more empathetic experience through the use of virtual reality.

Given the power of VR, and the impact it could have on journalism, it can be predicted that we will see more experimentation with the melding of the two in the future.

2. VR and AR mobile app development will rise

Pokemon Go was a phenomenon that few saw coming. Even Nintendo was surprised when the augmented reality game surpassed $500 million revenue faster than any other app in history. As of December of last year, the runaway success brought in a total of $1 billion.

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Attendees wear Samsung Electronics Co. Gear virtual reality (VR) headsets on the Surround Vision stand at the Virtual Reality World Congress in Bristol, U.K., on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Virtual reality proponents say that liberating computing from the confines of glass rectangles will change the way people interact with information. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

According to the Motley Fool, AR apps are expected to reach $1.2 billion in 2018. That’s an increase of $725 million from 2016. They are not alone in this prediction, either. As AR usage surges, so does development. In turn, the technologies become cheaper, and more widely available. Due to this, Deloitte predicts that in 2018, there will be 1 billion AR apps on smartphones.

3. AI will improve VR simulations

Artificial intelligence has already reshaped many facets of our lives. From custom recommendations on Amazon to automated email filtering, AI has made everyday tasks much easier and more efficient.

The marriage between AI and VR has already begun. AI could greatly affect simulation programs, for example, making them much more dynamic and accurate. As artificial intelligence and VR improve and become available to universities, companies, and individuals, we are bound to see an increase in VR simulations built on AI frameworks.

4. VR and AR will begin to merge

While the blur between real reality and virtual reality isn’t likely to hit us soon, we will begin to feel the rumblings of such a change in 2018. AR’s commercial viability has already been proven with successful apps like Pokemon Go, and VR is making similar strides.

The production of AR headsets, similar to those already existing in VR, could make AR/VR applications far more popular. We could visualize new solutions in our environment through the use of augmented reality. Architects could use the technology to visualize new designs and new building in an existing space, for example.

Conclusion

Virtual reality is having an incredible impact. The tech industry is not the only industry that will be transformed by VR, either. VR is set to change how we experience stories, even news stories, how we interact with our smartphones -- as well as our environments -- and could improve how we learn.

VR could transform journalism, improve virtual reality simulations, and help us visualize solutions for our communities. In 2018, we even see the beginnings of integrating AR or VR headsets in everyday situations, from planning construction or building a new app.

How far VR will go in 2018 will depend on a number of factors, but what we can count on is an increase in usage and development. What innovations follow will depend on developers, consumers, and entrepreneurs alike.

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