25 years on, I am suddenly given the chance to play with the recently released Vive. For the uninitiated (much like I was earlier this week), the HTC Vive is a head-mounted display with a camera near the bottom rim. It is completely wireless, uses two handheld controllers and two lighthouse base stations. Astonishingly, it is room scale virtual reality — aka — it mimics the real world room you are in. Basically, it makes shit really real.
I was already in jaw-dropping mode, and am now presented with 3 game genres to choose from: fantasy adventure, action sports, or guns. Naturally, I choose the Indiegogo backed Hoover Junkers.
To sum up the experience: let’s just say that my first instinct after removing the headset and looking around me was one where I wanted only one thing — to be back in that world, not this real one.
And I should mention here, I am generally a pretty happy guy. I like the real world. So I was surprised at my reaction. Could it have been the newness and novelty? Could it be that as I got better at re-loading my assault rifle and more confident navigating the 3D world and killing folks, that the draw of the gaming effect was just too fierce?
I dunno. On reflection, what’s actually more interesting to me is not shooting some random gamer from Wichita who’s suddenly popped into my sight. It’s the endless applications of VR in in areas like education, medicine, meditation, shopping, cinema, and arts.
When new technologies and ancillary products come on the market (and they are just around the corner) these VR experiences will only become richer. For example Learning Hand, a venture based out of the Central Research Laboratory is developing the next version of the mechanical hand.
By being able to grab and feel a virtual object’s physical presence, Learning Hand lets you touch the virtual world.
And at the first Consumer Virtual Reality conference last month, I learned there were many different VR headsets kicking around. 19 to be exact. And that was just the companies that had paid to take a booth, plenty of others are available to purchase today. I had no clue that the market was so competitive and inevitably will mature quite quickly.
The biggest takeaway was that developers of VR environments are not just concerned on pushing games, but on pushing limits.
Chris Bedyk of Perspective Films is the creator of 360 degrees VR series: Wonders of the World. The thinking behind it is that many people (for a variety of reasons) will never get to see some places and spectacles. Say something like witnessing the awe of the northern lights (where many actually do have the opportunity but simply don’t seize it).
I need to go get something to eat. Apparently noshing in the VR world isn’t all that — yet. I guess there are still a few kinks to figure out but..
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