This article is part 5 of the "21 Thoughts on Video Streaming in 2021"-series.

Cecilia Tellechea (a Customer Services Coordinator at THEOplayer) went all-in on Virtual Reality in her 2021 thought.

My 2021 thought is video and traveling related.  A “Going on Holiday” type of experience in virtual spaces.

Think of the possibility to have a friend going on holiday, to a remote place that you can never visit, maybe joining a ceremony of a local tribe, or doing mountaineering. Being able to not only take pictures or videos to share, you could create VR recordings, and share with family and friends. Think of the experience for grandparents to be on top of the highest mountain of Europe, or in the middle of the rainforest. VR will allow to experience traveling from remote. Going a bit like into the direction of the sci fi movie "total recall" with Arnold Schwarzenegger, where you can buy memories and have them implanted and live them through your memory.

So, VR will be used, to share experiences, to plan trips (advertisements to go to certain places) but VR will be used much broader. It is already used today for COWS, there is this farm somewhere, where cows wear VR and they are that immersed in the natural environment, that they are stressed lessed.

And stress relief could be another great application of VR. Think of a hard, long day. You come home in the evening, and you sit down, put your headset on, and watch the ocean. That can really help you relax. This is how VR is used in the movie Blade Runner 2049 with Ryan Gosling. Where he sits in the evening in his chair, in a room and all the walls of the room are used as projection areas for a projector, so the main character feels like sitting in a different environment and can relax. So VR will not replace travelling, but VR will be a compromise for some people to experience remote places in a more immersive way.

Keep reading to get 1) context and 2) my take.


There are different types of Virtual Reality (VR) experiences.

  • There's 360 video, where you can move around 360 degrees. Alternatively, there's also 180 video, where you can look left-and-right, but not behind you.
  • There's also "real" Virtual Reality where you immerse yourself in the video with a VR headset, like the Oculus. Most 360 and 180 videos can be experienced with a VR headset.

VR experiences have two different degrees of freedom (DoF):

  1. 3-DoF: you are stuck in one position, but you can rotate. This is what most 360/VR website experiences offer.
  2. 6-DoF: you can rotate, but also move around. This experience is more prevalent in VR games (e.g. on the Oculus or HTC Vive), but doesn't yet really exist for recorded video.
3-DoF 360 YouTube video

My take

I believe there's an audience for what Cecilia is proposing with the available technology. Better yet: Oculus already offers a "Travel the World" experience, and companies are offering VR stress relief.

I also believe it'll take some decades before this becomes mainstream. I feel like the industry first needs to solve some challenges:

  • the support for 6-DoF in recorded media (=> you should be able to move around),
  • the visual quality (=> a pixelized world doesn't feel real),
  • the lack of comfort (=> putting on a VR headset doesn't feel nice, and it can also induce dizziness).

For me, Virtual Reality feels Virtual, but not Real. There are many good applications for VR in the present (e.g. concerts, sports, editing, security, education, security, ...), but VR is the future. The VR we know today isn't the VR the children of tomorrow are going to love.