VR (virtual reality) is making a comeback, and it’s coming back more advanced than ever before.
But before we get into that, what is it making a comeback from?
The first time I had been exposed to VR was in 2002, with the Spider-Man VR3D Virtual Reality Helmet. (The objective was to sling webs and capture the Green Goblin.)
However, VR has been around waaaaaaay before ‘02.
According to vrs.org.uk, there have been virtual reality concepts dating back to the 1800s with “Stereoscopic photos and viewers, the design principles of which have been used today for ‘Google Cardboard.’
In 1960 Morton Heilig created the first VR Head Mounted Display.
1991 saw the start of Virtual Reality group arcade machines
1993 had Sega’s VR glasses and in 1995 there was the Nintendo Virtual Boy.
Leading the virtual reality industry of today is a company called Oculus, and at the innovation forefront is their virtual reality helmet, Oculus Rift (pictured at the very top), which was announced in 2012 and just started shipping out this month. (The 23-year-old Oculus Founder, Palmer Luckey just flew out to Anchorage, Alaska where he hand-delivered an Oculus Rift to the very first person to press the pre-order button.
Samsung just had a promotion wherein if you pre-ordered the new Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge phone, you got a free Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus. Gear VR is a smaller more affordable version of the Rift ($99 vs $599), to be used in conjunction with your smartphone. I myself took advantage of this promotion and my Gear VR is on its way!
Six Flags theme park also jumped on the opportunity to be part of the new era in technology with their Virtual Reality roller coaster, New Revolution, where riders of the coaster where a Gear VR equipped with Samsung Galaxy phones.
Popular video streaming services like Hulu and Netflix (VR n Chill?) have jumped on the band wagon as well with Gear VR apps offering a mix of 360-degree videos along with more traditional TV shows and movies to watch using Samsung’s headset.
In 2014, Google came out with a cardboard VR/AR (augmented reality) viewer called Google Cardboard.
In a Sunday edition of The New York Times magazine, NYT included cardboards to be used with the New York Times VR app, which includes 360˚ videos, such as one that puts you right in the middle of a Paris candlelit vigil in the wake of the 2015 terror attack.
In a June 2015 article in Gizmag, Will Shanklin wrote “If VR hits the right notes with consumers, it could become the teleporting machine that sci-fi has been fantasizing about for decades.”
Gizmag also listed 8 ways VR could be used change the world, which included “making exercise machines fun” and the fact that “Governments, businesses, and militaries could use VR to better prepare people for their jobs.”
Shanklin wrote “VR’s ability to transport you is only limited by the imaginations of the people creating content.”
*Perfect way to segway into the topic of VR porn!*
Adult site, Pornhub has partnered with VR porn store BaDoink to offer more realistic videos, something which CNET believes could be a technological game changer, as it notes that Americans’ love for XXX entertainment fueled the early adoption of VHS players in the 1980s and cable television in the 1990s.
But apart from really cool gaming, and really sexy video-watching, why is this new medium so revolutionary?
VR could change potentially make the world a much better place.
Chris Milk, CEO of leading virtual reality technology company, VRSE, gave a TEDTalk in Vancouver, BC, in March 2015 in which he spoke about how he’s using this new medium of technology to create ‘the ultimate empathy machine’, to ultimately make humans more ‘human.’
In conjunction with VRSE and the United Nations, Milk went to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan and shot a story of a 12-year-old girl named Sidra, using a 360˚ camera.
“We showed it to a group of people whose decisions affect the lives of millions of people,” said Milk, who believes that in doing so, he can lead them to make decisions which will make lives better.
Milk is now working with the United Nations to create a whole series of films, just like the one he shot in Jordan. “It connects humans to other humans in a profound way that I’ve never seen before in any other form of media” said Milk.
With all the above said, could the use of VR headsets be dangerous?
Dailymail wrote, “The makers of the new generation of virtual reality headsets have warned that users could hurt themselves or become the victims of theft whilst they are using the devices.”
While the potential of VR is limitless VR is currently limited, but that’s because it’s just the beginning. Give it time and lend it trust and you might just find yourself entering “the era of VR.”
How do YOU feel about VR? Skeptical? Excited?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet and let me know!