Virtual Reality: Real or Not Real?

Game On

Image from http://ps4daily.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/project-morpheus-vs-htc-vive-vs-oculus-rift1-640x381.jpg

Virtual reality headsets. Image from ps4daily.com

“Okay, put on the headset and hold these controllers and you should sta-“

And that was the last thing I heard.

My reality disappeared along with any evidence of the tangible world and all of a sudden I was immersed in a new world. I stepped into the arena and everything melted away. The only thing I could see in front of me were two digitalized hands that were controlled by me.

I was underwater, standing in a shipwreck and couldn’t believe how real it felt. I gasped for air only to remember that it was simulation but even then I still felt a weight on my chest as if I were actually deep in the depths of an ocean. A school of fish swam by me and I reached out with my hand to greet them only to have them scatter instantly as if I had actually disturbed their reality. A shadow creeped over me and I physically took steps to turn around and turned my head upward to see a gigantic blue whale glide gracefully over me. Instinctively I ducked when the whale neared me with its body and that’s when I realized the game had been changed….

Everything had changed.

Image from http://vrfocus.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/htc_vive_demo.png

Virtual reality. Image from vrfocus.com

Virtual Reality is Here

Virtual reality had become my reality in those five minutes submerged in a digital underwater scene. I’m a 90’s kid who grew up with the GameBoy Color. I repeat, the GameBoy Color. I never would have imagined that gaming could change this drastically. I had the opportunity to experience virtual reality after signing up for an HTC Vive demo at UC San Diego. They set me up in a 15X15 ft room with digital “chaperones” that would stop me when I walked near the boundaries of the virtual grid. I’ll admit I was quite the skeptic when I first heard about the HTC Vive demo at my school but the HTC Vive rose above and beyond my wildest dreams and now I completely understand the hype.

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Simulation experience. Image from si.wsj.net

Image from http://www.roadtovr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/htc-vive-steamvr-setup-guide-pamplet.jpg

Virtual “chaperones” make sure users don’t step out of the boundaries. Image from roadtovr.com

The HTC Vive is not the only virtual reality console on the market and it will compete in 2016 with Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s Playstation VR. HTC Vive will start taking pre-orders in February 2016 and official sales will launch in April with starting prices estimated to be around $1000. These new virtual reality consoles are not only changing the field of gaming but they have the power to change sports training, the art world, and even medicine. The possibilities are endless.

From my experience with the HTC Vive, the mind-blowing aspect was being able to physically feel as if I were interacting with my exact virtual environment. The ocean scene was only one of many virtual realities I was able to experience and it’s amazing how I was able to walk around and explore my virtual space and inspect objects from every angle. Everyone should try out some kind of virtual reality tech at least once. It’s a remarkable experience that literally takes you out of this world.

Dear virtual reality, my wallet is ready. Just take my money.

Image from http://www.jamspreader.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ShutUpAndTakeMyMoney.jpg

I’m serious. Take it. Image from jamspreader.com

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