The ubiquity of VR glasses

The image of a society where everyone is wearing a VR headset or smartglasses seems futuristic. Perhaps we are closer than we think. Mobile phone are everywhere. VR glasses represent technological evolution and will become as ubiquitous as mobile phones. Discuss…

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Parag Khanna
April 19, 2022 2:22 pm

I can see it happening. People walking around with VR headsets as flying cars hover past and teleportation is the standard method of transportation. It is a futuristic image indeed. But we only need to look at the past and compare it to the present day to see how far we have come. The world today would be unimaginable to people living in the 1800s. You can even say it is unimaginable to people a few decades ago. Technology is moving so fast and it is unpredictable which of the so many competing technologies will stick.

Set aside the flying cars and teleportation. The purpose there was to set a futuristic scene πŸ˜‚ Will VR headsets be as widespread as mobile phones? It absolutely has the potential to be. 3D glasses at movie theatres are a thing. Google Glass and Spectacles by Snap are available to buy. The next generation of wearable tech is already here.

In my opinion a strong driver of the adoption of VR glasses will be differentiation. Early adopters buy new tech because they love trying new stuff. The next level down are the regular consumers who benefit from the technology. One of the reasons mobile phones took of was because of the huge convenience of being connected with a device that fit in the palm of your hands. But that doesn’t mean each device has to be the same. People want choice. Some people love crazy colors. Other people want the most expensive phone so they show off in front of their friends πŸ˜†

When that happens, convenience and practicality decline in importance. If you need a phone just to make calls and send messages, you most certainly don’t need a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra! I think the same will happen for VR headsets. They will be the new mobile phone and sneakers combined into wearable tech that can be fashionable and powerful. The desire for differentiation will supersede practicality. Right now we are asking if we really need VR technology. We get by fine without it. Where is the need or the gap that companies are competing to fill? For a lot of us, the gap doesn’t exist.

To quote The Rock, it doesn’t matter!! People rarely ask if they need a mobile phone nowadays. Once established and there is choice, the VR headset will be as ubiquitous a part of our lives as mobile phones and clothes. That image of people walking down the street wearing headsets is not far off. Flying cars and teleportation? Well, we have to wait a bit longer for those.

Simpsons VR headset.PNG
Jenna T
April 20, 2022 6:03 am

The ubiquity of VR glasses is not a sure fire thing. For me it depends on whether it is a continuation of the current state of the internet. Everyone feels that social media is broken. Despite Facebook still having a comfortable lead as the largest social media platform, we have to recognize that users don’t enjoy it as much as they used to. Instead of connecting with friends and family, we’re exposed to arguments, division and abuse. The question is whether the current state of social media, and by extension, the metaverse will have the same social environment we have come to detest?

Sexual harassment is already happening. In Meta’s Horizon Venues, Nina Jane Patel talks about how a group of male avatars surrounded and groped her while taking selfies. Why would we think any different? Just like the ‘keyboard warrior’ is protected by the distance and a monitor, ‘headset warriors’ (can I coin this phrase?) are similarly protected by distance and a connection to a world they can enter/exit at will.

If the somehow more ‘present’ feel of our interactions in the metaverse make us more considerate and understanding toward others, then I can see a chance for VR glasses to be adopted en masse. While interactions in person aren’t always cordial, they are a thousand times better than interactions on social media where there is limited consequence and accountability. If the use of avatars in the metaverse makes us more accountable and halts the devolution of communication we experience today, the adoption of VR glasses could be a beautiful thing for our society.

Robert Huot
April 21, 2022 5:51 pm

At the height of Web2, does any one use Usenet Newsgroups anymore? How about Excite and Lycos? Technology evolves and so does a person’s interaction with it. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok and the rest will stop being used. The attachment of the mobile phone as almost another part of our body makes it seem that they will be with us forever. The reality is the mobile phone is another tech gadget that will be replaced over time. We can’t predict when, but it will happen.

Whether the ubiquity of VR headsets will substitute the ubiquity mobile phones, no one can say for sure. Fierce debates are ongoing and I don’t have a clear position either way. If anything I probably lean in the direction of VR glasses being a thing. Not these giant 5 pound headsets that will take a minute to attach to yourself and give you neck pain, but rather augmented reality glasses; similar to what Snapchat is working on.

Remember, when the Walkman was released Sony staff were worried that few people would be interested in it. The worry was unfounded as the Walkman sold hundreds of millions of units, changed our relationship with music and heralded a new era of personal device ownership; a precursor to other personal devices such as iPods and mobile phones. The culture of personal device ownership is incredibly strong. VR glasses is a logical continuation.

Also we need to stop looking at VR glasses as a single entity. We don’t compare the Nokia 1011 to the iPhone 13 Pro although they both fall into mobile phone bracket. VR glasses will evolve in design and features with a potential evolution to smart contact lenses. Evidently nothing is guaranteed. The reason I lean in the direction of mass adoption of VR glasses is that they hold many characteristics for that mass adoption, in particular an established culture of personal device ownership, widespread internet usage and great investment activity in its development.