If you’re like most non-tech people you’re probably wondering what the big deal is with VR technology. I mean its just for gaming, right?
I’m going to make a sweeping generalization and say if you are still wondering what all the fuss is about you’ve not actually experienced it. Virtual reality using an Oculus Rift or Vive headset is a modern day miracle. You feel as if you are fighting the alien, flying over Rome, or running from the dinosaur. Okay, maybe those are bad examples.
Webster dictionary describes a miracle as an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment. This technology is going to change how we communicate. There are some who believe VR is the next mass medium. The technology provides us the ability to transport to locations limited only by the imagination. Once there we are PRESENT in the environment.
This was the first year of VR. It’s only just begun.
We are entering year two of development. On the horizon are wireless technologies. No longer will you be tethered to the computer. Technologies that enable you to make any object in your home a smart object called trackers will become part of the VR environment. Tracker technology will provide a new sense of presence and a psychologically deeper experience.
Full presence requires the entire body be part of the VR experience. When this is realized our body not the controller interacts with the computer. Our eyes and all of our movements will be tracked and integrated with the story. As we move in real time and space we move in the virtual time and space.
While this is over the moon exciting, I’m worried. I’m not so sure the mind can differentiate the virtual experience. Indeed the purpose of the technology is to be immersed into the virtual environment. Even though it isn’t real, it feels real. Your brain processes elation, fear, and happiness totally dependent on the VR experience.
This is also exciting. One complaint we hear a lot today is people are constantly distracted. Attention is placed on the present moment and within seconds attention is diverted to the phone. The VR experience might be the only time when we will be fully present and without distraction. Indeed, the power of the medium is significant because you are able to immerse yourself into it.
Everyday another VR breakthrough. Yesterday, Sports Illustrated announced the first-ever complete ascent of the world’s tallest mountain in virtual reality. Capturing Everest is groundbreaking storytelling. If you ever wondered what the base camp at Mount Everest looked like you can now see it. Although I’ve seen pictures before, the 360 degree view actually made me feel cold. My body responded as if I were sitting in frigid weather at the base of the mountain.
While some may argue against calling VR a “miracle” my guess is they haven’t fully experienced its power. I do not think everyone will like VR or that all stories should be told in VR. But I do think it has the potential to revolutionize education and learning.
Rudyard Kipling said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Imagine experiencing history class using a virtual reality headset. You could sit in the middle of the civil war and experience what it was like to be on a battlefield. That would truly be student-centered learning. While we might be a few years off from being able to place VR in schools, the technology is developing at breakneck speed.
If you interested in learning about VR but don’t have to time read or research, follow me. I’ll be your tour guide into the world of VR. We have a lot to learn and many questions to ask and answer. We are at the cusp of another communication revolution. This isn’t hype anymore. It is fact.
I believe in miracles. Do you?