The Excitement of Virtual Reality

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Earlier this week Brooks and I went to our friend’s virtual reality startup open house. Exactly one year before that day (thank you Facebook for bringing it up) I had tried Occulus Rift at EMP. They had a virtual experience of ascending The Wall in Game of Thrones from HBO.

I was fighting off a real panic attack as I stepped into the fake elevator and put on the VR headset, so my legs were shaking when the experience started. Occulus Rift has a slight delay so I was super dizzy, too. Once you reach the top, you get hit with an arrow and fall off the wall. Embarrassingly, I fell backwards for real. Luckily, the door to the fake elevator kept me from falling. The volunteer standing there said he had never seen anyone fall over before.

Our friend Matt is currently working with the VR equipment made by Valve, which uses laser tracking so there isn’t any perceptible delay. They had a game set up where you chase around a small Bill Murray and try to feed him cereal.

I was worried about falling over again, but Matt suggested I just hold the headset up to my eyes with my hand rather than strapping it on. This totally helped my nerves. I didn’t experience any dizziness either. There was no delay that I could recognize. The virtual room was bright blue and cartoonish. I felt like a child again, using my vivid imagination to paint over reality.

Matt, Brooks and I discussed that if the mind was exposed to a virtual reality long enough it would have no problem recognizing it as real. A study was down where peoples’ eyesight was flipped upside down using a device. It took them three days to adjust, and then they could function normally with upside down vision. I think the same thing could happen with VR.

I also talked to Matt about how VR reminds me a lot of lucid dreaming. Whenever I become conscious within a dream, I always open my eyes wide and try to take in the realness of what I see. I’m also obsessed with touching things and feeling how real they are. But there is always this layer of barely perceptible sort of pixelation in my vision that I never noticed was there until I tried VR last year. This totally blows my mind. Are we building virtual worlds in our minds???

I told Matt how much I want someone to create ASMR experiences using VR. I would be first in line to try it. I love ASMR videos. They help me counteract stress I. If I could experience something like that in a VR setting I might never leave the apartment.

I can’t wait to keep trying all the cool stuff Matt is working on!

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