Welcome to our Tech Pioneer Learning Series. In this long article, we’re going to cover Reverse Tide’s favorite emerging technology – how to learn Virtual Reality. Technically, we’re also covering augmented reality, as the developer skill-set is very similar and our prediction is that the two technologies will eventually merge (or at least complement each other).
We do two separate things at Reverse Tide.
First, we have Learning Paths. These are almost always skill based and they set you up to apply these skills in any number of industries or jobs. Our paths include things like Programming, Data Science, International Business, Marketing, and more.
Second, we have our Tech Pioneer Learning Series (like this one). This is where we take a highly demanded skill (mostly in tech) and help with getting started in learning and working in the field. However, since these subjects change so rapidly, we give you sources and ideas to get started and immerse yourself in the field. In these subjects, you’re a pioneer and evolving the future of that technology just by being involved. It’s not just about learning how to do a skill but defining the skill for the world!
With Virtual Reality, we think it will change the world. We think this might be the best field to get involved in, as it will impact everyone’s lifestyle and every industry much like the PC/Internet did. But since it’s so new and evolves every day, it can be intimidating to get started. So we have three main goals in this article…
I. How to learn virtual reality basics
II. How to get immersed in the VR industry
III. Where the opportunities are and how to become a VR Tech Pioneer
Ok, let’s get started…
I. Learn Virtual Reality – The Basics
Ok let’s start with the basics of how to learn virtual reality. Most people in the VR space will need to learn as a developer. In these early days of the technology, it hasn’t yet impacted industry enough to find other job descriptions. Think of it like the Internet in 1995. If you became a developer at that point, you probably accomplished big things in your career. However, millions of other non-developer jobs eventually emerged: Marketing, sales, content writing, tech support, customer service, and more. These peripheral jobs will also be needed in the virtual reality world but at the moment, it’s developer-focused. The hardware, infrastructure, and software are all in creation mode.
Virtual Reality Intro Course – This course focuses on the theory of VR and graphics. It goes into tons of depth on what VR is and how it works. This fits a VR engineering path.
Reverse Tide Programming – If you’re going to learn VR, you have to start by learning to program. Everyone should do this, even if you don’t intend to be a full-time developer. With VR, there are many options…
Unity is the most common development platform and is run using C#.
Unreal Engine is the other most commonly used one. A lot of people recommend C# and if you want to go into more advanced and powerful development, C++
Java is best for any Android based VR system
Most beginners will start with Unity. It has the shortest learning curve and is good for your VR needs. So our suggestion is C# as a programming language. We provide the top C# learning sources, the recommended path to get experience, and tons of project ideas. We also help with getting job experience within that page!
The next big way to get started is simply by purchasing a headset and getting started. Your options are:
Which should you buy? You can’t go wrong with any of them because they’re all revolutionary technology. The best graphics and overall experience come from the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, however, they are both quite expensive. Samsung Gear probably has the best App store and is cheap if you have a high-end Samsung phone. Playstation is best for gaming and you know that’s the direction they’ll aim for. And the Google Daydream looks poised to be the next great released when it pairs with HTC and Lenovo manufacturers. As a developer, you just need to decide what you’re aiming for. Since all are backed by major tech players, we tend to worry less about the hardware and more about the software potential. As a learner, you should waste less time deciding and just get started in your journey to learn virtual reality!
So let’s take our own advice and get started. As we mentioned, we’d suggest starting with Unity. There are two options…
Unity has its own Courseware – Unity Courseware Link
Our preferred option is leveraging some truly amazing Udemy courses. There are some great ones for Unity:
- The highest rated one is Complete C# Unity Developer
- Supplement through experience in Master Unity
- And consider the more technical side in Game Physics
These are some of the highest rated courses you ever see on Udemy. So definitely consider using that method and building strong C# skills at the same time.
II. Learn Virtual Reality – Getting Immersed
The next step to learn virtual reality is to immerse yourself in this new world. Remember, virtual reality is in its infant stages. There is so much to be discovered.
What will be the development standards for that headset?
How will VR apps most effectively reach the public?
Who will create the standards in the VR world – things like a dominant operating system, 3D browser, commerce marketplace, search engine, and social environment? And how will development interact with each?
And what possibilities will exist in VR that are unfathomable right now?
The way to really get involved in VR is to immerse yourself in it. Follow the leading thinkers and dominant companies in this space. Follow the news. Buy a headset yourself and experience the leading apps, games, and simulations being created each day. And start coding basic apps yourself so you can easily follow it.
As time goes on, you will be at the forefront of the industry. You will truly be a pioneer of virtual reality! You will be following and working with the leading people in the industry. And you might become a leading influencer yourself since you’re getting in early.
Here are some of the top sources for you to consider following closely…
VR Developer Nanodegree – We love Udacity and this one helps you get the basic skills so you can build your first VR apps. You can watch these courses free or sign up and get the collaborative features of the nanodegree.
VR Dev School – You’re going to want to focus on one of the main VR hardware options (Oculus, Vive, Gear, etc). This site has some free developer courses for each and a paid one for Unity.
There are tons of immersive resources for continual consumption as well.
There are also a lot of awesome VR specific podcasts…
III. Learn Virtual Reality – Become a VR Pioneer
You’re setting yourself up for a lot of success just by working in the industry during early stages. Reverse Tide expects this industry to have a similar influence to the Internet. Everything will change. Every industry. Lifestyles. Communication. Learning. How we work. So just by finding a solid company or startup or founding your own, you can ride the tailwinds toward success.
However, we want to give you some ideas about where to target your energies. It’s easy to become paralyzed by lack of focus when VR is so big and touches every aspect of our world. These ideas will point you toward the areas we think are bound for great success.
Here are a few ideas to get you started…
Basic apps. Similar to the mobile world, basic games and productivity apps are possible. A lot of these made their developers millions and VR is just another new medium for doing something similar. Perhaps you’ll create the Angry Birds of VR?
Games. There’s already a lot of demand for this right now, as this is how VR is starting to build a market. VR games are a lot more complex than 2D games. They require better graphics and obviously that third dimension. You have to create an immersive experience for the customer. So you’ll want to join a larger developer team to create competitive gaming products. This doesn’t have to be your long-term plan but is the easiest way to get into the industry today.
Movies & TV. This is another one that is starting to emerge. Hollywood is realizing that they can tell a more convincing story with the action all around you instead of just on a screen. It’s still early days but we expect this will take off in the next few years and will touch every aspect of entertainment. VR will be the medium for viewing sporting events, concerts, and other live events. Documentaries. Immersive tours of foreign cities, museums, and other places. And of course your blockbuster movies. 3D glasses have been around for a while but is about to get exponentially better in VR.
The cool thing about entertainment is that there are so many jobs you can get by learning VR technology. You can learn how to work the sophisticated cameras that capture the scene in 3D. Maybe consider learning the lighting or sound nuances for a good VR experience. Design the animated or fictional simulation. Be a VR storyteller. You can be a developer that takes the role-player game to a whole new level. Or you can build the companies that create these experiences. The sky is the limit here. 2D will soon go the way of black and white tv. So be the pioneer here!
A large company’s VR expert. Just like every company does e-commerce or has customer facing tools, communicates, and stores information over the Internet… we will do a lot of these same things over VR. We’re in the early days of it but within 5 years, we expect this will be the norm for every company. What does this mean for you?
You can rise very quickly in a large corporation by being their VR expert and build their internal infrastructure
You can help them sell their products over VR or alternatively build a new VR specific product.
Just like every employee in a corporation gets a computer, we will soon all be getting VR headsets. You can help with this hardware rollout, create the VR version of an intranet, and help the company with their proprietary apps (communication capabilities, business apps, data security, and more).
Companies like Google, Facebook, Samsung, Sony, and pretty much every large tech company already have huge VR divisions, as they are already the primary players. This is the clear path today. However, expect all large company to have a presence in due time.
Think about all the multi-billion dollar Internet companies. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Paypal, etc were possible after the internet’s invention. And then there are thousands more that are worth amounts in mere millions. The same thing will happen in VR. Just because Facebook is the leading social network in the 2D version of the internet doesn’t mean they will remain the leader in the 3D VR world where so much more is possible (you can move around, create interesting avatars, etc). Same with Google for search or Paypal for payments. And there will be companies that create amazing products that are unfathomable now.
If you could go back in time to 1995, you would probably go the startup route. You would think about what amazing possibilities the Internet would have and would join the leading startups (with a nice equity stake). This is the route we’d choose as a Tech Pioneer!
Deciding to learn virtual reality is a great choice! This is the technology that will define our next generation! It’s an exciting job. You will have the potential to make a lot of money. And since you can learn and eventually be a developer remotely, you can even combine it with the Roaming Student or Digital Nomad lifestyle.
Exciting times! We wish you the best on your journey. For more of our thoughts and perspectives on VR and some of the other exciting technologies, refer to our page – The Future. And for a little career boost once you successfully learn virtual reality from all our sources/methods, refer to our many resources…