“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” Richard Feynmen.
When I left the army in 1992 I got onto a plane to London where I got a job as a nursing assistant in an old age home in Surrey, while I was looking for a grown up job. The experience was thoroughly uplifting. Looking after old people in the twilight of their lives was amazing, at least for me. I think that they were utterly bored to be fair. Sitting in living rooms, they all had the 1000 mile stare and the highlight of the day was getting their Prozac pills that kept the loneliness at bay. Their kids would visit once every four weeks if at all and the old age diseases crept in, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc… And I remember how truly glad I was that I had grown up in the computer age and that I saw the Information age dawning in front of me.
When I reached that age, I vowed to myself I will be a grandmaster in Civilisation and a killer at Doom, That was 20 years ago. Now gaming and interactivity have gone from level to level and I am 100% certain that in the last 20 years there have been more advances in the digital world then there was in a 100 years before. Technologies have become self-perpetuating at such a rapid rate that we lose more than we are aware of. Betamax, HD DVD, 3D TVs, Curved TVs and now 2016’s go to technology, Virtual Reality. You can tell how popular a technology is by watching how professionals quickly update their CVs on linkedin to let the world know that they are “this-or-that” expert. Expert these days means you have read about it online.
But back to VR. I have no doubt that VR is definitely here to stay. But I am also even more sure that it will not survive in its current format. Clunky helmets that do not take hygiene into account is definitely not a sharing experience. I have two teenagers in the house and our facial oil production is on OPEC levels. Sharing VR glasses is just not going to happen.
The media houses are taking to VR like desperate ducks to water. Thinking (again) that adopting a new technology will save their businesses but with content production specifically, video production sinking faster than the Titanic I have no doubt that the Pewdiepie of VR is all already playing around with the super cheap Ricoh Theta and thinking of content creation. CDs turned a generation into DJs, VJs and wannabe musicians, and youtube turned a generation of nerds into video editors I believe there will be even more amateur content creators in the foreseeable future fragmenting the market even more.
Where VR is going to make a huge difference is definitely in professional services. Doctors will soon truly be without borders as operations can be done live over continental distances. Or a mechanic in the heart of Africa can invite a professional to look at his trucks engine. With the robotic revolution happening the same time (however) I am not sure how long humans will be needed for such activities but for the time being it’s an exciting path!
I was in New York two weeks ago and in the Samsung Flagship Store, we went on a VR ride with moving chairs and everything. It was super, really. We rode a roller coaster and even though I knew that I was in the store most of my senses were hijacked by the experience. I felt everything and actually had to close my eyes because I got scared. Totally freaky.
This can only bode well for my retirement days when I am sitting in an old age home twiddling my thumbs and experiencing a space flight in real time. But then again walking in a forest, feeling the crunch of leaves under you boots and the smell of pine needles in your nose… I wonder if VR would ever be able to emulate that.
By Erich Hugo