For me the outstanding quality which VR offers is immersion. Running your app or AAA game on a traditional 32inch tv is simply what it is, you are observing a two dimension rendered, three dimensional world. Putting on a low latency VR puts you in to this world. It is no longer a 2D screen space representation, because even with the sub 4k resolution of the current VR units, the immersion factor is inescapable. In the three years I have been developing with VR I have yet to see someone put on a unit for the first time and not try to reach out and grab virtual objects that they perceive to be in their “virtual arms reach”.
Developers like myself putting on one of these units for the first time inside their unity development environment experience a profound epiphany, namely that in this immersive virtual world their programming skills that before could only abstract 3D experiences on to a flat LCD screen are now in this new VR driven reality, like the powers of a low resolution God. This seems to me to be the underlying psychological reason that developers get so excited about VR tech.
I was over in New Zealand last month talking to a developer I met on linkedin at length about the possibilities this technology offered and yet even though we'd never met before, we had both got our own units and explored separately, our conversation was fuelled by that same emotional content , a shared epiphany to the extent where we actually hugged at the end of the meeting. Not something that's ever happened to me before. That is the indirect power of immersion on both consumers and even developers, which VR platforms hold. The virtual can now be experienced instead of merely observed. Action sweeps you away easier when you're in it as opposed to observing it. The greater the immersion, the greater the emotional reaction, the thicker the axon fibre's myelin sheath on the consumers “newly formed” memory of the experience, the easier it is therefore for them to recall as a more vivid memory, producing a brand recognition association with real, emotional depth. That's a very big potential win for any brand.
I was also in Sydney in February and connected with an Aussie company that creates WordPress ecommerce sites for the South East Asian Fashion industry. He approached me with the hopes of developing a WebGL VR app for customers to view client stock in virtual reality with a fall back to standard 3D model viewing if no VR unit was present. This was in an effort to set his products apart from the competition by making online shopping more immersive. This demonstrated to me how VR also offers the potential for “re-presenting” products through redevelopment of the usual sales channel interfaces, allowing consumer interaction to reach a new level of “the personal relationship” by applying “gamification theory” and “personalised (qualified) up-selling” to VR consumer interfaces to maximize sales.
It is already possible to use WebGL to make VR applications as web sites, which can offer a virtual reality interface for their standard 2D information architecture and content. WebGL VR applications already exist today. The marriage of online services with Virtual Reality seems the logical place of progression once stand alone, home VR units reach market saturation. In other words once everyone has a unit it's just a case of connecting them together via the web for shared VR experiences.
Regarding investor confidence in shared VR experiences, while I was in New Zealand I also had a meeting with a company called 8i who have had substantial investment to make full “virtual reality movies” using 5 dimensional maths specifically light field theory to produce truly holographic virtual reality. They use 9 cameras to achieve this. Now using 8i as a case study, the movie industry investors seem to have put their money behind developing virtual reality to a holographic technology for the next generation of shared cinematic experiences.
One other pertinent example of apps that would benefit from a greater sense of immersion is simulation apps, such as those for medical and military sectors. Greater immersion in a virtual operating theater creates greater emotion in the subject and a greater degree of accuracy when testing how subjects would act pre and post training in stressful, real world situations.
Effectiveness of Immersion: The strength of an emotional response is directly proportional to the clarity and re-collective properties of it's memory, higher emotion produces better psychological penetration for brand recognition as well as offering the subtle impression that the brand identity is adventurous and lives on the cutting edge of man's current technical ability.
So IMO the word of the day for VR is immersion, it's what VR tech brings to the global app markets. Be they simulation, gaming, ecommerce or entertainment.
Apologies if this was a rather long rant complete with anecdotes and tangents but when I give personal opinions I like to be thorough and present as much of the contextual experience driving my subjective opinions as possible so you know not just my opinion, but how I arrived at my opinion.