Rebooting Mirror Worlds with Virtual Reality

eiffel_003-1A Mirror World is a virtual world based on a real-life place – a digital re-creation of an existing landmark, building, region or even an entire country.

Mirror Worlds became popular initially in virtual worlds such as Second Life, that allowed the activity due to the presence of User Generated Content (UGC) – users purchasing land and re-creating real world places. And there was a lot of them.

Other UGC based virtual worlds such as Minecraft allowed this theme to continue. Coupled to the ‘community building’ element of Mirror Worlds (users taking VW tools and deciding to create their own places), a small number of companies were established to focus solely on Mirror World business models, the best example being Twinity, a German company that launched a virtual version of Berlin.

Were these initial Mirror Worlds popular? To a degree yes. Users were interested in exploring these digital environments but the business models didn’t really promise what was on paper – the experience just wasn’t real enough. Although what was being shown on screen looked realistic and reflective of the real world place, the interface (the monitor screen) experience still felt a little remote.

However, with the coming consumer push around virtual reality, we expect the interest in Mirror Worlds to re-emerge. In fact, we’ve identified it as one of the key sectors for consumer adoption in our latest VR Radar chart analysis.

1374192331894673y4iy66r_1381343406006Using VR technologies to place users within Mirror Worlds is an altogether different and more immersive experience than viewing on a monitor as users are placed within the Mirror World environment.

An early demo of this genre has been created for the Oculus Rift. Virtual Tuscany is a virtual reality representation of a Tuscan house and garden. You’ll have to try it yourself to really understand how immersive it is, but rest assured it’s a great demo.

In terms of the applications for Mirror Worlds and Virtual Reality, here’s a few examples:

  • Tourism: Allowing people to virtually visit places they’ve never been before. These could include cities and landmarks.
  • Construction/development: Allowing people to explore commercial and residential properties.
  • Geography: We see education as a perfect vertical for VR Mirror Worlds and in this example students (or anyone else for that matter) could visit Mirror Worlds based on ocean floors, deserts, glaciers – you get the idea!
  • History: This is an interesting concept (and already observed within Second Life) that would allow people to visit historic venues and places from the past.
  • And our favourite – just for the hell of it. If people are given the tools to create, then that’s what they’re going to do.

Also, don’t forget about Google Maps, Street View and Indoor Maps. These are all currently being worked on to incorporate VR capabilities.

Mirror Worlds are explained further in our new report: Consumer Virtual Reality – State of the Market.

Looking to develop an Oculus Rift application? Contact us here.