Perhaps you haven't noticed yet, but virtual reality is kind of a big deal. Samsung has holiday-themed ads running on primetime TV and sports, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are breaking new ground in a stale gaming industry, and even Google is pushing its new Daydream platform hard. The powers that be think there's money to be made, and that means they're willing to work together (at least to some degree) in pursuit of it. Hence the creation of the Global Virtual Reality Association, announced by Samsung on its corporate blog.
The GVRA is more or less the same as any tech interest group: members will have at least some kind of association to form hardware and software standards, promote the industry as a whole, and if necessary lobby governments and other bodies in service of their shared goals. The initial members are Google, maker of the Cardboard and Daydream platforms, Samsung, which has been pushing its Gear VR headset for years, HTC, which has heavily invested in VR with the Steam-partnered Vive headset, Oculus, now owned by Facebook and still arguably the most visible VR headset maker, Sony Interactive, currently marketing its PlayStation VR console add-on, and Acer-Starbreeze, a joint venture between the Taiwanese PC manufacturer and a panoramic VR startup.
Many of the members of the new Association compete with one another, but they'll combine their resources for "education and training" purposes, foster relevant research, and host international discussion on virtual reality topics. Perhaps most importantly, the Association plans to develop a set of best practices for VR hardware and software applications. Presumably that means that safety will be a priority, and that it will be adhered to by at least some of the tech world's biggest players.
"The GVRA is a necessary first step toward ensuring great VR experiences for everyone," said Google's Director of Immersive Design Jon Wiley, "through collaborating on research and sharing best practices as the field grows and evolves. We look forward to working with our industry colleagues." Samsung's VP of Mobile Communications Business, Tae-Yong Kim, shared a similar sentiment. "It is important that we set a clear precedent for best practices and create a solid foundation from which we can build meaningful progress. Samsung is pleased to join the GVRA and to work with other industry leaders to promote responsible development and adoption of VR globally.”