Virtual reality, at least in figurative forms, can be traced back to the 1800’s to the panoramic murals painted by masters like Peruzzi and Roubaud. They created circular paintings, which were presented on a cylindrical surface and viewed from the inside. Viewers were given an outlook point with the painting reproducing the original scene in high fidelity. The scene was one of importance and the viewer was immersed in the world captured by these masters.
Today’s masters of virtual reality do more or less the same but have overcome the outdated limitations of time and space. Today’s virtual reality can be enjoyed anywhere by anyone and can present any scene with which the viewer may even interact.
With familiar and not so familiar names already jumping onto the VR bandwagon, it’s not unlikely that we’ll soon be flooded with virtual reality content on devices that are affordable and practical.
Prepare to have the windows opened.
As with most new tech, consumers want to be immersed, they want to play the role of the creator and not merely the silent observer. They want more variety, more interaction, and more information. The developers that anticipate these needs will win the VR leg race.
Facebook recently bought the company that brought back the teenage sci-fi pipe dream that was virtual reality. Oculus, whose founder Palmer Luckey is only 22 years old and now worth $2 billion dollars, is a young company with their principle VR headset, the Rift, only available to developers (with a consumer version set for release later this year).
The design of the Oculus Rift is by no means streamlined. It is neither wireless nor comfortable, really. The headset weighs around 380 grams (which is the equivalent of having a can of soup strapped to your face). And using one can get tiresome very quickly. But here’s hoping the consumer version will have these ergonomic flaws resolved.
The current visuals may make you feel jaded, but no more than seeing the overzealous and overrepresented Facebook logo hovering over your head every time one uses the Rift. The buying out of Oculus by Facebook has had its fair share of naysayers, especially from the gaming community with which VR is most closely associated. Nevertheless, VR holds exponential potential in a wide variety of applications, whether educational, or pure pleasure, the possibilities are literally endless.
VR headsets will soon allow consumers access to areas where they may previously have been excluded due to the limitations of reality. You can start with a private tour of the Louvre, a front row seat at a Rolling Stones concert, then a holiday to Disney World. But it is perhaps in VR’s capacity to create hyper real and surreal experiences that its strengths lay, and not as proposed, in its capacity to imitate real life. Virtual reality holds promise of a new life where joy reins supreme.