Looking to the Future: Careers in Virtual Reality

Imagine playing a video game, but rather than simply seeing the game on a computer or television screen, you are a part of the game – you are one of the characters experiencing it. This, in essence, is virtual reality gaming, where a virtual reality headset creates an environment so the player feels as if they are in the game.

Despite acknowledgement as a growing market, virtual reality still has plenty to grow before it can reach its full potential. But as a market that was estimated at USD 1.4 billion in 2014, its spread is almost inevitable. With so many students interested in technology at Monta Vista, it is quite possible that MV students may become a part of the virtual reality revolution, forming companies or working as employees to create the newest virtual reality products.

But just how likely is it that MV students will end up with a career in this technology?

Junior Shaurya Srivastava speculates that almost 30 to 40 people from Monta Vista would end up with such careers, indicating that he himself might be interested in such a career.

“It’s really fun to play games because the games are more realistic…it gives you a new experience,” said Srivastava. “I would enjoy a career making programs to make it more integrated in people’s day to day life”.

Srivastava’s goal to integrate virtual reality into our daily lives is a goal that many virtual reality companies share. Indeed, products like the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset owned by Facebook, could be used in a multitude of applications that we may not even be able to imagine. As Leon Hurley writes for Kutaku, medical professionals could perform surgeries with greater precision, schoolteachers could take their students to view historical events, and artists could draw in three dimensions without the constraints of a piece of paper. 

Despite the fact that it’s a growing market, however, Srivastava mentions that career opportunities in virtual reality may not grow in popularity for a few more years, because it is not yet a central technology that coders are used to creating applications for.

“It’s where the future of tech is headed,” Srivastava explained. “Once it is more developed and more integrated into people’s lives, more people will gain experience in it and be interested in working with it.”


A Real Life Example

Monta Vista alumni Anand Rajamani, who has already started working with virtual reality, is in the process of researching a project to better sense the movement of virtual reality users. Rather than working on the coding for virtual reality, however, he is more drawn towards the robotics behind it.

“I’ve been working in my VR project on and off for about 4 years now, although nothing really serious other than research and some prototypes,” Rajamani said. “The biggest part of my VR project has been finding the right sensors for sensing movement, and the mounting of them…I know for a fact the the technology to make full VR exists, but it’s difficult to work on as a hobbyist.”

Rajamani, who considers working virtual reality one of his many passions, first started to take interest in the field about five years ago.

“The thing that really turned me onto it was television; movies like The Matrix and anime like Log Horizon and SAO were examples of VR that I respected greatly, and I assumed that when people started talking about VR they were talking about the legitimate thing,” he said. “I was really let down when I found out that the Rift was nothing more than a stereoscopic headset, for which the technology has existed for two decades. So I started doing my own research and working on a problem that would at most take Microsoft two years to solve”.

Rajamani wants to allow users to move around in virtual reality, but he is not the only one with these ideas. The Virtuix Omni also adds the functionality for active VR, where a virtual reality platform allows users to simulate walking or even running in a virtual world. Unlike the Rift, the Omni allows users to move around in virtual reality, similar to the movement sensors that Rajamani works with.

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A player uses the Virtuix Omni to play a first-person shooter game (Wikimedia/Jan Goetgeluk)

Companies like Virtuix and developers like Rajamani are inspired by a drive to bring virtual reality further. They, like many others, hope to become one of the leaders of the now emerging virtual reality market.

“I think VR is really going to take off in the next 10 years, if the big companies can get their heads out of the sand and start thinking beyond the Vive and Rift,” Rajamani predicted. “Not only will VR networking become a lot more common, but scores of engineers will look into ways of making more realistic VR, especially the military and gaming companies.”

As a school that is so focused on technology, it is nearly impossible for Monta Vista students to ignore one of the biggest opportunities in the last century. Today, careers in virtual reality are in huge demand. Whether it be an internship, starting a company, or simply experimenting with the coding and mechanics behind virtual reality, Monta Vista graduates like Rajamani could very well be the ones to fill those roles in a few years.