Seeing a good movie with friends, comfortably seated on the sofa, is always a pleasure but some think it can also be through virtual reality.
Virtual reality is one of the most futuristic technologies of recent years although it has already existed for a long time at an experimental and military level. Just remember the movie Il Tagliaerbe with Pierce Brosnan, based on the eponymous story by Stephen King. In the film a man becomes the guinea pig of the experiments of a scientist passionate about virtual reality, on which he conducts several experiments. It’s been a long time since Tagliaerbe, especially if we consider that the film dates back to 1992.
After a few years of silence, VR or Virtual Reality has returned to amaze users with truly incredible sensory experiences. Anticipated by science fiction writers of the cyberpunk genre such as William Gibson and George Alec Effinger, preceded in turn by some ideas of Philip K. Dick, this technology should allow us to fully enter parallel worlds where we can interact with their inhabitants or simply do everything we want. Imagine the possibility of taking flight simply by wishing it, while sitting on the sofa. The experience is often associated with that of dreaming or lucid dreaming, as we will see everything directly from our eyes.
What awaits us
If you have had the opportunity to try a helmet for virtual reality, you will probably have felt disoriented at the end of the experience, as if you had just woken up and catapulted back into reality. But isn’t ours also a virtual reality? If this technology could really be perfected to the point of making it realistic, who will then be able to establish what is true and what is false? On the other hand, our brain believes what it sees is real.
Of course, at the moment it is still too early to reach these levels of disorientation, virtual reality is currently being applied largely to video games, although even in this field it is a bit difficult to have the success that many expect.
The point is that the videogame has its own dynamics, which are often extremely complex and which can hardly be fully integrated as VR. This is also because virtual reality helmets such as the HC Vive or the Oculus Rift at the moment often limit the action to the gaze and both hands. The exclusive titles that require the use of these devices in fact usually have tactile controls that allow the user to interact with objects and characters, but at the same time they are very limited. Furthermore, VR games are limited to first-person view for obvious reasons, while RPGs or third-person action titles are very popular on the market.
Not affordable for all budgets
It must also be taken into account that the VR headsets at the moment are really prohibitively expensive and can only work with the latest generation consoles and equally expensive PC video cards. Another negative point is the feeling of dizziness caused by the excessive use of the viewers which can lead to nausea or in the worst case to vomiting. Not everyone can therefore afford the luxury of experiencing virtual reality.
Let’s say that virtual reality is in a bit of limbo at the moment, but this doesn’t stop some companies from trying to push the product forward, trying to get it out of this state of interest / disinterest in which it is.
Of all, the least suspected to be interested in this technology was the social network Facebook which is planning to launch an Oculus TV. This new device is expected to allow users to watch movies and TV shows while wearing a virtual reality headset called the Oculus GO.
Unlike HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, Facebook’s product will not be linked exclusively to the world of video games, but wants to try to bring VR technologies to the world of cinema. The project consists in the creation of a ‘hub’, that is a place where the user will be transported through virtual reality and where he can move at will, passing from one room to another to watch different shows. According to the company, the Oculus GO experience can also be shared with other people.
Facebook is not the only one, however, to invest in virtual reality, even Netflix and Hulu have taken an interest and are launching themselves in the creation of virtual reality rooms that can be accessed thanks to augmented reality viewers. We want to create a shared living room where users from various parts of the world can join together to watch films together and even throw popcorn and virtual drinks against the screen to express their dissent towards the film.
It is not clear how this application can be advantageous or interesting in any way. Seeing a screen from a viewer does not seem so appealing, even if in reality several users have expressed interest in these futuristic virtual ‘cinemas’.
Will the right vehicle be sport?
For sports programs, however, some decidedly more captivating solutions have been devised, such as that of attending a real match as if we were in the stands, being able to admire the entire virtual stadium around us. With this in mind, it will also be important to have a high-level home theater system , so that the visual and sound combination returns an experience as realistic as possible. It is always about experimentation, but such an idea could satisfy many sports fans.
As we have seen virtual reality can have multiple applications, but at the moment it remains a technology that is still too limited to sight. It remains to be seen whether in the future it will be possible to connect the other senses and above all to devise a real movement system. The idea of a real shared cyberspace, like the one launched by Facebook for virtual cinema, certainly excites the imagination, but at the same time it may risk becoming a somewhat too alienating concept.