Virtual reality allow us to access an alternative spaces and times simply by putting on a headset. The growing number of virtual reality kits and the rate at which the price is falling suggests we could reach a critical mass soon. Virtual reality is sold as an immersive experience, which also hinders widespread usage. What will we do with our body located in reality whilst we’re otherwise occupied exploring the galaxy or understanding brain injuries.
This is where augmented reality comes in. Google Glass may have tanked rather spectacularly but offerings from Snap(chat) and other companies are bringing this layered experience back. The advantage of augmented reality is that you can remain in our base reality and add things in you’d like to see. Perhaps a rather dangerous game to play, have you seen Black Mirror yet?
All our lives we’ve been ourselves. Imagining but never knowing the experience of another. Last year I was fortunate enough to try out Jane Gauntlett’s VR experience In My Shoes. Being put in another person’s first person perspective and hearing their inner thoughts as a person living with epilepsy, it was moving.
Virtual reality is not inherently benevolent or malicious. Its a neutral technology affected by its developers and users. Using virtual reality as a form of punishment, insert your own nightmare here, would almost definitely be tortued. Just because something is illegal doesn’t stop people doing it. We need to be aware of the ways VR can be applied to cause harm.
Real estate and property
A different form of punishment. Virtual reality could make it possible for wealthy individuals to view the properties they want to invest in without having to ever visit them now.
Storytelling can be taken to the next level with virtual reality. The audience can be transported to the scene of the event. The New York Times produced this VR experience telling the story of Falluja. Could virtual reality experiences like this one from the Calais migrant camp improve relations with migrants? Alternatively, how long would it take for fake-realities to emerge?
Any new media will eventually be used for pornographic purposes. Using Google Trends we can see how interest in “virtual reality” is very similar to “vr porn”.
Not the most beneficial use of technology, but humans will be humans.
The usefulness of VR in the education system is an exciting and beneficial development. Imagine being able to attend a lecture at Harvard then simply switching channel to attend your weekly seminar at Cambridge. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) could be taken to the next level. Encouraging interaction with other students in a way that’s more personal than email or those lame 2D video chats we’re having right now.
Didn’t get tickets to that gig? Too bad, that disappointment might be a thing of the past soon. Capturing events with 360 cameras means we can have the next best thing to the live experience. Revenues will be huge. The best seat in the house could seat limitless audiences. NextVR have teamed up with Google to bring viewers VR versions of the NBA, the US Open and Presidential debates.
Exactly how virtual reality will be mastered in a way similar to films and televsion is unknown. A new cohort of directors and writers will have the chance to work with this new medium of communication. Virtual reality is blurring the line between a passively consumed piece of media and what we call ‘video games’. Interactivity with VR is growing in popularity, I can’t wait to get stuck into Roy.
Virtual reality is a general purpose technology. GPTs are those breakthrough creations with multiple applications, think ‘wheel’ or ‘mobile phone’. It’ll change various aspects of our lives for at least the time we’re immersed. If you want to sample some virtual reality content you can do so using your mobile phone and some cardboard schematics, or if you have money to spend there are numerous models that provide higher resolution.