Virtual Reality: Another World, or an Integration Into Ours?

07/03/2015 - 00:00

Robert Parmer

This year’s E3 revealed many exciting products and game concepts that will revolutionize virtual reality. These ideas accentuate existing technologies and will begin to push the boundaries of what’s considered possible. Some familiar brands are jumping into the new digital world. Companies at the forefront of this fresh platform include: Sony, HTC, Microsoft, and Google.

Primal VR Technology

Although new visions for a virtual world are now becoming realistic, it’s important to note that this has actually been around for well over 25 years. The radical video below puts these primitive ideas into perspective.

Emersion into A Virtual World

Modern virtual reality does an excellent job of using emersion tactics as ways to shut out the outside world. Everything, down to the headgear design itself blacks out the real world. You literally can’t see outside of the headset once it’s on, which equates to an experience that essentially plays a game with your senses. For example, if you jump off a building in VR, the image dynamics, environment, and sounds that are presented, trick your mind into thinking it’s falling. This is what developers are going for: a fully immersive, yet alternative world.

Game Design, With Lucid Dreams in Mind

Many game titles and applications are already in the works for VR. One game concept in particular that takes its players to other world’s is Lucid Trips. This is a pristine example of immersion into another world. Lucid dreaming itself is another world, so basing a video game on this is genius! Unique ideas like this will soon change our conceptions of video game culture. We all know that gamers love becoming immersed in other universes, but now people that don’t typically play video games will begin to do the same thing. 

Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus

At the forefront of this technology lies the Oculus Rift owned by Facebook and Sony’s take: Project Morpheus. HTC has also jumped on board, with the launch of SteamVR and RE Vive. These are all considered industry leaders and share many similar qualities including:

  • Lens and display design
  • High definition display
  • Comfort of headset
  • Wearable controls in development
  • New gaming concepts and opportunities

Mobile Application Potential

Since modern VR has a heavy focus on creating something cutting edge in all dimensions, something that may be overlooked is the potential of mobile devices and new smartphone applications. 

Google sees the potential. The search engine overlord has taken a drastically different approach. Rather than focusing on a plethora of high tech, expensive hardware, what we have is something called Google Cardboard. It’s as straight-forward as it seems: a cardboard headset that uses your smartphone to create a virtual world. Google has always made it easy to find the information you need online, and now they are making it easy to get involved in the early mainstream 

The company FullDive is taking this simple approach and fitting somewhere in the middleground related to all VR hardware in the works.Like Google Cardboard, they use cell phones as the basis of their product, but offer a more comfortable and professional headset.. This company is taking an amazing approach with everything it presents to the world. It allows a person to fully engulf themselves in virtuality, as well as experimenting with a sort of ‘hybrid reality’. FullDive also allows it’s users to create interactive 3D holograms. It’s possible to create and manipulate your real life surroundings and add in useful digital content.

Real World Applications Beyond Gaming

The online world has begun to intersect with education. The gamification of education is a logical progression for Generation Y. Classrooms can take place in artificial meeting places. Platforms for virtual worlds such as Second Life are pioneering and questioning traditional settings. 

Joe Sanchez, professor at Rutgers University has been using Second Life as an educational tool for going on a decade now. In his video Education in Second Life Sanchez explains: 

“In some cases, virtual worlds are games where people coordinate, collaborate, and strategize in order to perform a task. In other instances, virtual worlds are shared virtual environments where people socialize, work, and learn.”

Virtual meeting places may become normal within the workforce. Why travel to that business meeting miles away when you can avoid leave the comfort of your own home? And why bother with awkward conference calls if you can literally create a meeting place? With VR as an educational and workplace interface this seems to be on the horizon.

Although basic virtual reality concepts have been around since the late 1980’s it’s just now really taking flight. Will VR and holograms become an integrated part of the average person’s life in the near future? Only time will tell, but most fingers are pointing to a world that wants virtual reality, to become a ‘reality’.

Below is only a glimpse of the immersive VR awesomeness yet to come...