I never knew getting “jacked-in” was a real possibility!
I think we’ve finally turned the corner that many have feared for quite a while. My wife, who’s just now begrudgingly accepted the fact that smartphones are a way of life, used to be anti-tech. While she has finally come around, she is certainly not alone in this thought. There are some in the world that, no matter how prevalent technology becomes in our culture, they simply refuse to see it as our inevitable future. The fear part comes as a result of thinking computers and technology will completely overtake our lives. Filling our every waking moment with some kind of electronic interaction (either through tablets, smartphones or even video games) will see us finally disconnect from the real world all together.
It would appear that those fears may not be so unfounded, as some in the industry already see these days on the horizon!
I can’t express just how important these latest innovations the last year has brought to the world of VR are. In fact, there are 2 billion little reasons that do the explaining for me. As you’ve probably heard, the crowd-funded Oculus Rift project hoped to take the first real steps in breaking through the glass ceiling of the Virtual Boys or “3D” goggles of the past, and finally allow us to experience truly immersive environments. Facebook, being so impressed with its possibilities, decided to snatch it up. Of course, this has caused concerns that the project will lose its way due to the corporate nature of “the man” stepping in. Others are still optimistic.
The point is, Oculus has proven the future is now. Sony has already jumped on that band wagon with Morpheus, proving that this may not be just another hardware fad that we often see come and go in the gaming world. Over the weekend, the Rift’s founder Palmer Luckey painted a very scary picture at PAX East in Boston. He suggested that, by integrating other force-feedback style additions (like touch sensitive controls for example) people will no longer feel the need to interact with others in person. “How do I know you're real?” he questions. “'Why do we care if we're physically isolated if we're mentally connected? If you can perfectly simulate reality, why do you need to actually go see people in real life? Eventually, VR is going to be good enough some day where it's as good or close to as good as real life…How good is has to be for someone to accept it, that's a different level for each person. But we'll get there eventually.”
So do we really find ourselves in a time where society will attach the same value to virtual interactions as real ones?
Now we’re getting into a weird Matrix-esque conversation. If Morpheus were here (the man not the headset), he’d probably be giving you an over-enunciated speech about “electric” this and “desert of the real” that. It does, however, raise the question, what is reality? If your brain is just the window to which you experience the world, could a machine not simulate the same level of realism from your computer chair vs. walking out your front door? It’s something we’ve seen in movies and read in comics, but those types of leaps in technology could literally connect the entire world in a way we’ve never before seen. If the current breakthroughs are any indication, the technology will no doubt get their eventually. All that’s left is for people to embrace such an alien concept.
I can remember back to when I was a kid and seeing all those sweet futuristic gadgets depicted in Back to the Future II. Most point to the hover board as their favorite; but mine was the video wall scene. You know, that one where Marty’s boss tells him he’s fired and keeps yelling “MCFRY!” Well, do you realize we already have that today and it’s not even 2015 yet? I regularly Skype on my 60’ inch HDTV (via an app). What was once a simple fantasy on film is now an old-news reality.
I wonder if our virtual worlds of the future will become so common-place that we’ll look back at the idea of “connecting” in person as a silly relic of the previous generations?