Virtual reality is a disruptive technology. It’s impacting industries across the globe, from social media and gaming to architecture and healthcare. Since VR is relatively new, it’s only natural that certain myths about it have taken hold. But virtual reality isn’t going away any time soon, and believing popular misinformation about it will just hold you back from experiencing its true potential.
We’ve gathered and debunked 5 of the scariest VR myths for you here. Once you’re done reading, you can hop into VR without worrying about any of these issues getting in your way.
VR myth #1: VR is too expensive
For a long time, the scariest thing about VR was its price. In the 1980s, VR pioneer Jaron Lanier released one of the world’s first VR products, but it cost over $350,000.
Today, many types of VR have become affordable for consumers. Google Cardboard — a basic mobile viewer to be paired with a compatible smartphone — has one of the lowest price points, at under $10.
Mobile VR is more financially accessible than ever. Image courtesy of SlashGear.
For under $100, you can make the step up to a Google Daydream View or Samsung Gear VR. Mobile VR platforms like these bring user immersion to the next level while still requiring only a smartphone to run.
Even premium, computer-powered VR experiences are affordable today, with Oculus Rift now priced at just $399. For some reference, iPhone XS and XS Max are priced between $999 and $1,499 — you could buy 3 powerful VR headsets for that cost! Additionally, top of the line GPUs are more reasonably priced now, with many coming in at around $350-$450.
VR myth #2: VR makes you nauseous
When jumping into virtual reality for the first time, many users are terrified they’ll get sick to their stomachs. But VR has come a long way and continues to improve, with new technologies helping users feel VR sickness less and less.
It’s thought that high latency numbers cause nausea in VR. Latency refers to the amount of time it takes for the movements of your head to be replicated in the virtual environment. With higher latency times, what you perceive in VR and what your body physically experiences aren’t aligned. But today, powerful headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have gotten latency times short enough (20 milliseconds and less) that this effect is no longer anything to be afraid of. 6DoF tracking will also play a large part in more accurate immersion and remove any further disconnect.
As VR technologies continue to improve, latency times get lower. This means that fewer users will experience any nausea in VR. Image courtesy of Qualcomm.
Comfort in VR depends not only on headsets, but also on the software itself. When developers don’t follow locomotion best practices, a software’s frame rate can drop below 90 frames per second — causing users to feel nauseous. As a VR-first company, IrisVR prioritizes user comfort above everything else, ensuring that nausea isn’t an issue with Prospect.
VR myth #3: VR is only for gaming
Some people are afraid they won’t be able to “understand” or “get into” virtual reality if they’re not gamers. And while it’s true that gaming is a popular use case for VR headsets, it’s far from the only application.
Designers, engineers and VDC teams in the building industry are utilizing VR every day to review designs in a true-to-scale setting. In fact, the building industry is far outpacing gamers in terms of how many hours they actually put into VR. As IrisVR co-founder Shane Scranton revealed in this keynote speech, AEC firms are using VR 10 to 25 times more often than gamers, with VR-equipped firms spending an average of 3 hours a week in VR.
But VR’s enterprise popularity isn’t limited to the building industry. In sales and marketing, VR empowers customers to preview products before purchasing them. And for creatives, VR offers a whole new dimension to play around in.
Using Google Tilt Brush, artist Sutu creates cutting edge VR art. Image courtesy of VRScout.
VR myth #4: VR is antisocial
Some people worry that virtual reality is antisocial because only one user at a time can wear an individual headset. But this just isn’t true: from interpersonal networking to VR Meetings, the technology has a variety of social applications.
Building industry professionals host meetings with colleagues and clients in VR, allowing them to meet in virtual reality to review designs and collaborate without ever boarding a plane. This saves time and money by streamlining communication — not to mention cutting out travel. Even in offices that only have one VR headset, colleagues get in on the action by streaming the headset’s view to a monitor.
And social VR usage doesn’t stop at AEC. As VR’s mainstream popularity rises, one of the most exciting emerging fields has been VR for social media. High Fidelity allows users to interact in a Metaverse, in which they can exchange goods and spend time together using avatars. Meanwhile, Facebook has made moves to suggest that they too see VR as the future of social interaction: between purchasing Oculus and releasing the social VR app Spaces, it’s clear that they are invested in the continuing development of social VR.
vTime allows people to make memories together in a virtual setting. Image courtesy of BoastVR.
VR myth #5: VR is just a trend
Some consumers will worry that any new or unprecedented product is just a hyped-up trend. But in the case of VR, the technology is here to stay. People have been fascinated with the idea of simulated worlds since the 1800s, and attempting to make them a reality since at least the 1960s. VR isn’t a trend, but a long-term project that humanity remains invested in.
Forbes predicts that “the VR revolution is in its infancy, with huge growth expected in the next few years.” The statistics back up their claim: the International Data Corporation (IDC) expects over 80 million VR headsets to ship in 2021, compared to around 14 million in 2017. And VR’s infrastructure only continues to expand — according to UploadVR, the number of companies in the field grew a staggering 40% in 2016.
VR is evolving into a key part of contemporary workplaces. As Deloitte points out, “companies are shifting their focus from experimenting with ‘shiny object’ AR and VR devices to building mission-critical applications in the enterprise.”
Major players in the tech industry agree that VR is more than a trend. “When people say that we’re building virtual reality because we’re not satisfied with the one we live in,” says Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, “my answer is, ‘of course we are.’”
Bonus VR myth: the Oculus Rift 2 headset has been cancelled
The newest VR myth to make waves is that Oculus VR’s Rift 2 headset has been cancelled. But — like the other 5 VR myths we already debunked — this myth misses the mark.
The rumor that Oculus had canceled their next-generation premium headset appeared when Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe left Facebook. Some media outlets reported that Iribe’s exit was in response to a “race to the bottom” in which hardware manufacturers were starting to focus on mobile VR solutions in the immediate future rather than immersive, computer-powered ones. Facebook later denied this, saying that they are still planning a future version of the Rift. Rumors are flying that Facebook's next Rift headset could be an iterative update, with TechCrunch predicting that this headset could be called the Rift S.
*Update as of 3/22/2019*: Facebook has officially announced the Oculus Rift S, featuring inside-out tracking, next-generation optics, and a new form factor.
Additionally, at Oculus Connect 5, their team previewed a prototype of their Half Dome headset. The Half Dome offers a massive 140 degrees of view space, eye tracking, and 6 degrees of freedom of movement, all while retaining the same profile as the Rift. The Half Dome is a compelling candidate for a future Rift successor — further debunking the myth that Oculus has canceled the Rift 2.
Oculus first teased the release of the Half Dome headset at F8 2018. Image courtesy of TechCrunch.
Now that you're no longer afraid of getting started with virtual reality, your next step is to get a hardware setup capable of running VR. Take our quiz to find out which VR headset is right for you.