Virtual Reality Is Amazing & a Little Bit Scary

My virtual reality head-gear.

Many years ago, at a conference on the campus of Virginia Tech, I entered a virtual reality (VR) area — I think it was  called “the cave” —  with all sorts of things going on around me. I think I was expecting the holodeck from Star Trek, where they went through a door and suddenly found themselves on vacation in a beautiful and peaceful place (check out what Virginia Tech’s video that describes virtual reality and the holodeck). Instead during my first foray into VR I wore big goggles, and I got a bit dizzy. So I’ve been a bit hesitant to try again.

This past week I gave virtual reality another try, this time at the Newseum VR Lab in Washington, DC. I was handed a pair of goggles, put them on, and followed the instructions to start the show.

First I was skiing, then in the middle of Tokyo, and finally I found myself in a beautiful, peaceful water garden. I sat on a rotating chair, and as I turned around the scene around me changed — as if I was on a tall building in the middle of everything. It was five or six minutes of relaxing fun, and this time I wasn’t dizzy.

But the thing is, the goggles are big and bulky. Yes, they take you to cool places, but you never quite forget that you are wearing those goggles. I can see playing a game with VR, or participating in some type of storytelling activity, but it’s hard to imagine completing a task that requires deep concentration — at least not yet. And as for VR news stories go, I’m reserving my opinion for now. (check out the Columbia Journalism Review link below).

All in all, I’m glad that I gave VR another try, and and I will do it again. Virtual reality and artificial intelligence are technologies that will play roles — albeit incrementally —  in our daily lives. It’s best to learn more.

 

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