Some quick thoughts.
A little over a year ago I wrote a short, half-baked thing for Infinite Lives, Why “virtual reality” will never catch on. Now, fewer than 400 days later, my little treatise already seems outdated and quaint. Oh, sure, the crux of my argument remains true: there is virtually (hah! Virtually) no way to not look like a complete idiot while wearing a VR headset. But now I have to begrudgingly admit VR is a fad that will not pass.
New World Notes, a blog heretofore known for its Second Life coverage, has been following the Oculus Rift with great interest all this month. That’s because, in late April, Linden Lab confirmed plans to integrate the Oculus Rift headset with Second Life. (Before Second Life, Linden Lab itself aspired to create a virtual reality metaverse, headset and all. What we call “Second Life” was originally just a proprietary creative toolbox, intended for building virtual-reality environments.)
In a post titled Oculus Rift Makes Virtual Reality a Shared Group Experience, New World Notes includes this delightful video. In it, Katie—she’s the one in the VR headset, on the verge of toppling—needs to be held upright.
A recent research article, Rats! Why virtual reality doesn’t feel ‘real’, explains what is the matter with poor Katie. She is experiencing a kind of VR-made “vestibular dysfunction,” a sense of off-kilteredness that lives somewhere between the inner ear and Katie’s own neurons. Her neurons, by the way, are doing a bangarang job of misinterpreting the Rift’s onscreen visual data—none of which jibes with real-world data like “I’m trying to get my physical bearings in this kitchen”—and as a direct result, Burly Friend has to kind of scoop her up.
I know you’re never supposed to read the YouTube comments, much less respond to them, but I kind of just couldn’t help myself:
It is possible to play with an Oculus Rift and stand upright at the same time, and it’ll be fascinating to witness how gamers gradually rewire ourselves to accommodate this new technology.
Anyway, here’s a Vine I took at Giant Robot LA a few nights ago. A thoroughly disoriented young woman is attempting to play with the Oculus Rift using Kinect hand gestures; meanwhile, an early adopter of Google Glass surreptitiously films her by brushing his index finger along the Glass’s stem.
We are truly embarking on a brave new world, here. I was recently advised to read Snow Crash in preparation.