You might be surprised to know that the first VR head-mounted display was created in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland, and the term Virtual Reality was coined in the 1980s by Jaron Lanier, founder of VPL Research!
Yes, the concept of virtual reality is older than the internet. It is by no means a novel idea. However, what is reinvigorated is the recent hype, innovation and advancements in this field.
VR has undoubtedly witnessed steady advancements and growth in the past four decades. But with the unprecedented growth and expansion of network connectivity and dramatic increase in network speed, the degree of innovation and improvement we have seen in the last field of VR in the last decade is astounding. The advent of consumer-level VR technology and the introduction of accessible VR devices has led to a massive leap in this field. It has revolutionised how tech enthusiasts and the average customers view VR.
Virtual Reality (VR), What is it?
I assume you are reading this article from your mobile device, computer or tablet. Can you feel my presence, the sound of my voice, the reverberations of the room or how I breath in-between lines while reading it? No.
Now, imagine I am standing before you (while I am not there really!) and reciting the article for you. Isn’t it fascinating? You can hear my voice, feel my presence, and even see the expression on my face while engaging in the article. That is the fundamental essence of Virtual Reality.
Watching a movie, listening to music, and playing a game are all purely digital experiences. You are an outside partly separated from the digital dimension by a screen. But imagine a world where you are inside the screen, interacting with actors and your gaming buddies in real time.
VR aims to create an immersive digital experience in a realistic manner where a user can experience everything like the real world with computer-generated stimuli. The eventual goal is to make the experiences of virtual reality and the real-world indistinguishable.
The more VR technology advances, the better it gets at mimicking the real world. In the near future, users may be unable to differentiate the real world from virtual reality.
How will Virtual Reality (VR) influence Social Media Platforms?
From healthcare to hospitality and from archaeology to anthropology, there is no field, subject and aspect of our lives that VR will not heavily influence. It has already been established as an integral part of multiple industries.
Social media platforms are some of the earlier adopters of VR technology.
Social media is like the Tsaheylu of our modern world. It is what connects us with each other and the happenings around us. Modern lives and social media are inseparable. We cannot imagine a modern world without the underlying fabric of constant social media interactions.
The fundamental goal of any social media platform is to deliver an immersive experience that encourages users to use that platform more and more. Engagement and reach are the driving forces of all social media platforms. It is the coal and the steam in their engine. There is hardly anything these platforms will not do in order to increase their engagement levels, user base and reach.
What better way to boost all these parameters than to use a medium that is designed to make every digital experience immersive and engaging?
Yes, we are talking about VR.
Integrating social media and VR is no longer a mere concept but a concrete reality. Over the past three years, Meta alone has been investing more than $10B annually in VR technologies.
Social media platforms realise the enormous transformative potential of this technology. Although making it monetarily profitable has been a challenge so far, VR has revolutionised user engagement and interaction.
VR already allows users to partake in virtual events, explore the world, join meetings, and participate in music concerts.
The future will be even more sci-fi-like. From metamorphosing content creation to transforming social interaction, VR technology will completely remodel social media. Soon you will be able to walk on the moon (or Mars) and relish the pristine beaches of the Philippines from the comfort of your home. Your physical limitations will no longer bind you. Whether you want to meet your grandmother living in Australia or enjoy a movie with a friend from Columbia, you can do it all as VR technology and social media advance.
Pros and Cons of VR in the landscape of social media
Although VR in social media is a revolutionary step towards the future and comes with a multitude of advantages, there are several ethical and social dilemmas associated with it.
Let’s discuss some of the major pros and cons of this revolutionary integration.
- Enriched Social Interactions: VR will deliver a real-life experience of interacting with people in virtual spaces in real time, enriching the quality and nature of internet-based social interactions.
- Erasing Geographical Boundaries: VR will make our geographical location insignificant, and we will no longer be bound to our physical locations. We can be wherever we want while in the comfort of our homes.
- Eradicating Physical Limitations: For people with physical disabilities, VR is a boon. They can transcend their physical disabilities in the virtual world.
- Improvement in Education: We have recently witnessed that the impact of global calamities on education is devastating. According to a paper published by Garen Avanesian et al., over 1.4 billion students’ education was disrupted. But with the advancement in VR, we cannot only expect uninterrupted education (even during global calamities) but also ensure an improved and practical approach.
- Addiction: Addiction is a huge problem when it comes to social media. VR may not be able to cure our need for that dopamine dose; however, it may elevate it further.
- Detachment From The Physical World: Even with the current levels of immersiveness, youths’ separation from the real world has become an issue. VR may promote the loss of attachment to reality.
- Negative Social Implications: Distance and distinctiveness foster diversity. But VR can eliminate both the distance and distinctiveness, hence, creating a monotonous and unified society in the long run.
- Privacy and Security Concerns: VR does nothing to alleviate the prominent privacy and security concerns of the Internet and social media. In fact, it adds to the prevailing issue by gathering more user data.
How will the integration of VR impact businesses?
Social media has already proven its enormous business potential by connecting customers and businesses like never before and establishing fronts for unconventional companies. VR will take these advancements even further and create new opportunities in the digital landscape while improving the scope of engagement, earning potential and reach for existing ones.
From training to collaboration and customer care to research and development, VR will influence each aspect of a successful business, helping them improve productivity, integrate innovation, and become future-proof.
To summarise, the future of social media is filled with pledges of improvement and advancements for individuals, businesses, and society as a whole. However, we must be cautious and select because exploitation often comes with outlandish promises of improvement.
Our expectations shape the future because global conglomerates improve and innovate based on our desires and expectations. It is we who are at the transactional junction of a better (or worse future), and we must be careful with this responsibility. We must embrace an innovative future and engage with the world by being adaptable and inventive while defending our values, ethics and humanity.
This article is written in collaboration with Ubaid Shareef, Nitesh Savaniya. We are a part of India’s leading mobile app development company, BrainerHub Solutions.
Updated and Reviewed and Edited on August 2, 2023