Virtual Reality Will Change the World
Last weekend I was able to try virtual reality on the HTC Vive for the first time. It was life changing. In my opinion it will change the way we interact with technology forever. It is our generation’s computer. Virtual reality(VR) offers the ability to exist in the video games and movies you enjoy. It is exactly how you imagine it would be, only it is more effective than you could ever imagine.
There is no way to describe what it feels like to be fully immersed in a virtual world. I am both excited and terrified for what VR will bring in the future. On one hand I could see it being used for good. Imagine manual labor jobs being done completely through VR and robots. There could be less risk in a lot of dangerous jobs like military, law enforcement, or even construction. The terrifying side is the disconnect from actual reality that it offers. This is in essence the ultimate escape from reality our world has ever seen. What are the ramifications for our kids when they can’t differentiate the difference between what is real and what is virtual? What happens when you grow up spending more time in a virtual world without consequences, than in the real world with consequences? These are all questions we need to ask ourselves as a society when introducing such an immersive technology. To reference Jurassic Park, we are so busy trying to see if we can create virtual reality, we forgot to stop and ask if we should.
While I can’t help but imagine the characters in Wall-E being completely detached from each other, VR could also improve communications. It could allow us to feel closer to distant friends and relatives by offering a more real experience with one another. I imagine soldiers away on tour being able to virtually experience the birth of their children. What if you could record every memory in 3d renderings, allowing you to relive some of the most wonderful moments of your life over and over again? I for one wouldn’t mind reliving my college graduation or my wedding day. The possibilities of being able to exist in a virtual world of our own creation are limitless.
What does this mean for the web? I imagine it will allow you to experience information rather then read it. During a load sequence I was taken into Valve’s virtual room of valves all over the walls with their logo brightly front and center, the experience had an impact to say the least. Imagine insurance ads where you’re driving your car, and two cars in front of you get into an accident. Or worse, you’re in the accident. Then everything stops and a sign up form pops up and says, “Accidents happen when you least expect it, make sure you’re safe and protected with All State.” The impact that would have on people would shake them to their very core tapping into their primal need for safety and security. Now imagine you search how to fix your leaky sink, and instead of sitting their watching a video, you are presented with a virtual sink, the tools you need, and a virtual instructor to explain each step. I could learn an entire trade online with just the cost of a headset and a computer using virtual objects.
Good or Bad?
The fact of the matter is VR is still very new and not completely accessible to the public. You have to not only have the expensive headset, you have to have a pc powerful enough to run it. If you were to purchase everything from scratch you’d be looking at roughly $2000 to even get started with VR. That’s assuming they have the product ready to ship, supplies are limited. There is a lot of potential for VR beyond just playing video games and watching 3D videos, both good and bad. I welcome the new technology and the chance to create experiences like our world has never seen before. I do worry though, about the ramifications of a generation of people growing up with a fuzzy line between actual reality and a virtual reality. In my opinion this technology will change the world as we know it. Only time will tell if it will be for better or worse. What do you think? Is VR a mistake or a breakthrough for mankind?