The future is here. It is not the planned colonization of Mars, it is not the advent of the electric car, and it not the proliferation of renewable energy. No, the future is a cap that we wear on our head. The future is a pair of glasses that we place in front of our eyes. It is a device that can transport us anywhere and to any time, plop us down into any reality more smoothly than any helicopter ever could. You put on the headset, and you are no longer sitting in your bedroom. You are on the Moon. You are at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
It was not very long ago – not even two decades ago – that this technology was found only in the realms of science fiction. It’s the very basis for The Matrix, existing in a place that is of the world but not quite in it. With the release of such headsets as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, we can now escape our lives and enter into a world that programmers have created for us.
For now, it seems as if VR is going to be treated as the next step in video-game technology. It is not difficult to imagine, however, just how VR could evolve into something else entirely, into a world that is more like that of The Matrix than it is of the actual 1990s. You put on one of these headsets and see for yourself. The jump from on-screen gaming to VR technology is not quite the same as the jump from 2D to 3D computer animation. It is fundamentally different, because of the way that it overtakes our line of sight.
This movement is, of course, still in its infancy. VR is rising, not developing. It is coming into its own, not growing up. We have yet to see the real-world potential of this technology in action, and all we can do is hazard some guesses about its nature based on the glimpse that these first-generation headsets are providing. It is the first day of summer, and though the sun has come out, we cannot say what the skies will look like come the middle of July or the end of August. This is a birthing. We are all witnesses to it, to baby VR, as it takes its first steps out of the laboratory and into our homes and into our minds.
I’ve personally skipped the first generation of the VR headsets as I’m not a big fan of tethered headsets, but I’ll certainly be interested in the next iterations of VR headsets. Do you own a headset, what’s your experience of VR?