On the Future of VR

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 2-minute read

While participating in HackPSU Spring ‘16, my team decided to stretch the idea of immersive gaming to another level. By combining other bio-technologies such as EEG scanners and muscle movement sensors, our goal was to create a virtual reality fighting game that used real-time actions and thoughts to affect game play. The player could heal with a focused mind, attack with hand movement, and dodge with head movement. The game was fun to make and engaging, yet ultimately led to my unease towards virtual reality.

Gameplay Screenshot

My Optimism

I think that the Virtual Reality may become one of the most consequential technologies that we have seen as a society since the advent of the internet. Over the weekend, I had seen a video of a VR Boxing simulation being played by professional boxers. They seemed to be impressed by the accuracy of the game, which got me to thinking.. if a boxer could have his opponent’s characteristics programmed into a simulation, that would be the most ideal sparring partner. There is little to no risk of injury and unlimited amounts of practice – a dangerous combination.

With VR becoming more convincing and more accessible, I believe that this type of technology will soon enter our work place, our social lives, and our private lives. This type of progression will lead to new levels of optimization and technical immersion. Just a month ago I heard about a new VR headset that will incorporate heat, cooling, scents, and wind. In the near future, you could feel and smell the burning of a virtual campfire, or the wind on a morning beach. (Nostalgic, I know.) This could also be applied to military training, emergency drills, and a multitude of other practices that might be hard to replicate in the real world.

My Cynicism

Virtual Reality will could tear our families apart, isolate us as individuals, and plague our societies with addiction. Too harsh? Probably. But, I do think that virtual reality will force us as a society to face a new problem that stems from our media consumption. Just as with the advent of television, then video games, then the internet, then streaming.. media usage spikes with new technologies. Recently, our usage has slowed down, to a point where it is only growing negligibly now. With the release of Google’s shot at virtual reality, I think VR is the new technology that will cause a spike in media consumption. In fact, there are already groups helping users with their addictions to Virtual Reality.