Monday, May 16, 2016

The Future is Here: Virtual Reality for Your Living Room

You may have seen one of my popular posts on near-future technology. Well, this weekend, I had the opportunity to try out a virtual reality system that isn't merely "near-future," but on the market today—the HTC Vive.

I didn't have my phone with me, so there are no embarrassing pictures of me waving in the air. Too bad because I may have looked like this.
image by Rusty Blazenhoff via Flickr

Anyway, I played two VR games:
  1. Audio Shield: where I used hand shields to protect myself from orange and turquoise blobs flying at me (to the tune of the Imperial March, of course).
  2. Job Simulator—Gourmet Chef: where I played a cook in a cartoony, yet futuristic, restaurant.
I preferred Gourmet Chef because I could work at my own pace. My son also played several games and was instantly hooked, regardless of which one. His favorite was also Gourmet Chef, but for other reasons. He could throw tomatoes and bacon across the restaurant, burn steaks and put them out with a fire extinguisher, and use a whisk to smash bottles of grape juice. Heh. Isn't that nice?

Based on my short experience, what are the downsides of VR? Not every game is for everyone. I saw some people become nauseous during one game, but be fine with others.

Also, I wear glasses, and it was suggested that I just leave them off because it's difficult to fit them under the headset. I was told I could read the text if I went up close enough to it. Unfortunately, that was a little optimistic. I'm quite blind without glasses. Next time, I'd try to squeeze them under the headset.

As for the upside of VR, it is absolutely amazing how quickly you adapt to believing the world is real. I only played for about 15-20 minutes, but when I was done, regardless of how child-like, animated, and clearly not real the environment was, I tried to lay the plastic controllers on the kitchen counter. The virtual kitchen counter. It's easy to imagine tech like this taking over the gaming industry.

If you're interested in how Gourmet Chef looks, click here for a demo.
And this is Audio Shield.

Have you tried VR before? What did you think?

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