If you're like me, you're probably wondering why so many of the super-cool inventions and gadgets featured in the original Back to the Future film have yet to come to pass. Flying cars. Hoverboards. Self-tying shoes. What's the holdup?
The same can be said for virtual reality (VR) technology. It's 2015, after all. Why isn't VR more widespread? There are many theories on the matter.
Some technologists argue that VR headsets remain too clunky, cumbersome, and just plain weird-looking. And as we learned from the dud that was Google Glass, while people love computers, we don't always like attaching them to our bodies.
But don't count out VR just yet. Facebook recently acquired VR company Oculus for $2 billion. We're told Oculus' current VR device is faster, lighter, and includes headphones. And then there's news out of Kennesaw, Georgia, that suggests that, much like Facebook and other deep-pocketed VC firms, major philanthropic foundations appear bullish on the promise of VR.
The Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University will launch projects to create virtual reality documentaries about youth in the juvenile justice system with the help of two new grants totalling $35,000 from the Online News Association and Institute for Nonprofit News.
The center is among 11 winners of the Online News Association’s 2015 Challenge Fund for Innovation award. The fund is the brainchild of a collaborative effort that includes heavy-hitters like the Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation. It is also managed by ONA, the world’s largest membership group of digital journalists.
The grant suggests that while the core focus of journalists—illuminating critical issues of our time—hasn't changed, the mediums they utilize continue to evolve with the winds of technological advancement. "Newsrooms are only beginning to explore the potential in virtual reality storytelling," said Leonard Witt, the center’s executive director and the Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair of Communication at Kennesaw State.
Furthermore, by embracing the edgy, exciting, and youth-oriented world of VR, educators can get students excited about the craft, a point that isn't lost on Fowler, who notes, "We want our students to be ahead of the curve in this new realm of virtual storytelling."
Makes sense to me.
Now can some huge philanthropic foundation please fund the creation of self-drying jackets already?