New gaming experiences are the central focus of virtual reality (VR) development, with technical demos and small teaser experiences the most common types of content. Other studios, like Valve, are working on the auxiliary technologies – specifically, how we'll interact with the web and traditional computer systems as a VR experience.
Steam VR, which now supports Windows, Mac and Linux, is really an expansion of the interface developed for what's called 'Big Picture', a version of the popular PC Steam client designed for television screens. Within the user interface, players can access games and store content without a keyboard and mouse, instead using a controller for greater ease of use.
The new VR version has the same layout, but uses the same technology found in other VR experiences to display the two required images.
Users are able to look around a VR web browser, viewing any web page or video content. While it may seem to offer no improvement over a traditional screen, the ability to view photos and flash content can make every browsing experience far more immersive.
The possible applications of a VR browser for productivity are quite substantial, as the headset environment offers no outside distractions. Businesses short on office space could use the devices for much improved multitasking, as a huge number of screens can be visualised.
There's no doubt that Valve will continue to enhance the VR experience over the next few years, potentially building a platform for buying content on the same level as the standard Steam store.
As both Steam and Oculus support the distribution of VR content, it will be interesting to see where developers and purchasers centre their efforts. Possibly, other stores could come about over the next few years which specifically focus on VR experiences.