Wing and a Prayer
In spite of impressive virtual reality hardware from the Facebook-owned Oculus and HTC's Vive — not to mention the Steven Spielberg-directed "Ready Player One" singing the praises of the technology — VR has failed to break into the mainstream market.
Facing that reality, the Verge reports, HTC has its sights set on a niche audience it thinks could be the tech's breakout users: religious Christians, who are using VR to preach to virtual congregations and experience Biblical stories in immersive 360-degree video.
To bolster its case, the Verge points to Wired's February 2018 feature about preachers who are using VR to assemble virtual congregations.
"Lord thank you for this time to be together,” said Brian Leupold, who uses VR to distribute footage of church services to hospital-bound children. "We just thank you for VR Church, and we thank you for the opportunity to be able to help people and spread your word."
There's a long history of Christians adapting to new technological and cultural developments, Wired and the Verge pointed out, from the Gutenberg printing press to religious radio programming and Christian rock music.
Now HTC's Vive Studios is throwing its weight behind the same market with "7 Miracles," a feature-length VR experience about the life of Jesus currently showing at festivals.
Vive Studios' vice president and "7 Miracles" executive producer Joel Breton told the Verge that he saw Christians as a perfect test audience for VR.
"When I look at where’s my target audience, that’s a nice audience to be engaged with," he said.
READ MORE: HTC Thinks Christians Are VR's Next Big Audience [The Verge]