With the hype surrounding virtual reality falling behind the growth of an audience for the immersive medium, critics and creators alike are left wondering if this is a technology to look out for or just a gimmick.
Virtual reality has experienced scrutiny since its earliest emergence–often times described as a “gimmick”–with a strikingly parallel critical reception to the emergence and growth of cinema and television. The cynicism of the value and longevity of each of these mediums all stem from dissatisfaction with the speed content has developed vs. its technology.
And yet, slowly beyond what the naysayers claim, VR has allowed disabled individuals to experience the sensation of surfing, helped cancer patients ease the pain and anxiety of chemotherapy, and let students that may not normally have the means visit top museum exhibits. So while this novel device created to attract viewers is by definition a gimmick, it is one that has the transformative power to educate and inspire. After all, the gimmicks of today often transform into the societal tentpoles of tomorrow.
Tom Westerlin is a Creative Director with an emphasis on emerging tech and a drive to connect brands and users through authentic experiences. He is currently spearheading VR and AR projects at Nice Shoes, where he gets to combine his talent and passion for gaming, design, production and directing, having successfully launched numerous XR projects in conjunction with global brands. Tom has been a sought after speaker on the topic of immersive content, having presented at AICP, VRTO, NAB, Creative Tech Week, and NYVR.