A shared reality: when VR becomes more than virtual

Posted on 25/04/2016

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oculus shared reality or separate?

It’s said there are two kinds of people:

those that believe VR and AR will change the future; and those that haven’t had the demo yet.

I had another VR demo recently, trying out the Oculus Devkit 2 and the Samsung Gear (for the first time). Firstly, I loved virtual Streetview on the Gear –  could have spent hours traipsing round cities and monuments.  VR really comes alive when it allows you to explore.

So, third time lucky. I think I’m now more convinced on the beauty and utility of the headsets, especially the Gear given how portable and simple it is to set up.

I’ve got three observations from the latest demo:

1. Frustration at just watching

Without either the effects and narrative power of cinema, or the ability to explore it’s just a gimmick.

2. Joy of exploration

Samsung Gear controls (tap / swipe against the side of the headset) are surprisingly easy – and far superior than TV remotes have been for the past 20 years. Excited to see how head, view and gesture controls evolve.

3. Being in two “places” at once

I had the weird scenario of a conversation going on around me while immersed in a 3D world, with its own story taking place.

I’m wondering if this will become normal at some stage: being in a base environment (e.g. your living room) while experiencing another overlaid onto it. This (cognitively) will be the challenge for people, especially if more communication and experiences start taking place through VR. It requires multitasking / flipflopping between spaces but at a whole other level.

I’m excited about VR, but I’ve one question: how do you share VR experiences? How do you network them and make them the sum of many people’s (simultaneous?) experiences?

For me, this feels like the multiplier. This would drive adoption (fear of missing out), and ongoing usage as people find new ways to connect with others. This would make it far more than a fairground attraction, and avoid the queuing and taking turns. When it’s not a solo journey, but something you share with other people in real time.

When does VR become more than virtual? When it’s a reality you share with other people.

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