Virtual Reality, a New Focus for You

A New Year, A New Toy?

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With the start of the year 2017, many people are eyeing a new and upcoming platform that may soon be integrated into many different aspects of our lives: virtual reality. Virtual reality is an immersive, computer-generated simulation where one can interact with a three-dimensional environment that feels real. I find this intriguing because it opens a new and innovative kind of experience for many people, and I am positive that it will lead to a large impact to the future of technology and the world. How virtual reality will impact the future is what I wish to look into in this post.

Why Should You Care?

There are plenty of reasons for someone to be interested in virtual reality. While some may argue that real life is much better, there are a variety things that can also only be experienced through virtual reality. Here’s a good example, think about standing on the moon. Can you feel the weightlessness in the surrounding atmosphere? Can you feel the gritty surface of the moon under your spacesuit? Imagine looking up and viewing the vast amount of stars beyond our reach. Look back down to Earth and try to spot the Great Wall of China, San Francisco’s glimmering lights, the cold and barren Antarctic.

Back to “Earth” though, virtual reality is currently limited to simulating visual and auditory senses that one would feel in a certain environment. However, with more research and time, virtual reality would not be limited to just your visual and auditory senses, it could partake in our taste, touch, and even smell, making it a completely immersive experience.

Where Does it all Start?

Some real examples of where virtual reality is impacting our lives is in art. According to an article taken from NYtimes, “Virtual Reality Has Arrived in the Art World. Now What?” by Jason Farago, virtual reality has entered the realm of art, as artists create visual displays of art where viewers can be fully immersed in a 360-degree work of art.

In it, Farago discusses many different artists and their creations, or rather, their worlds; Jeremy Couillard is one of the artists where Farago describes their work of art: “… Jeremy Couillard’s project is a jokey portal to the afterlife, in which you rise from a cartoon cadaver and ascend through colorful, heavenly tubes,” which while this work of art may not be for everyone, it would certainly be an experience unlike any other.

An installation view of Jon Rafman’s “Tokyo Red Eye (Massage Chair)” (2015) at the Zabludowicz Collection in London, in 2015. Credit:Thierry Bal

Now if that doesn’t catch your interest then why not talk about issues like climate change?

In an article written by Brooks Barnes, “At Sundance, the Theme Is Climate Change”, she mentions how people are using a variety of visuals including documentaries and short films, to aid in the effort to inform people about climate change. One of the visuals that caught my attention was the one she mentioned about, “… a virtual-reality experience that turns participants into a tree that is violently chopped down,” which is more than enough for creating more awareness regarding climate change.

Credit: Jakob Kudsk Steenson, via Sundance Institute

How Did I Become Interested in VR?

I first heard about virtual reality through a friend. As he was describing it to me, as best as 8th graders could, I became skeptical that such technology could even be developed in our lifetime, so soon that we could take part in it that is. Soon after, the world (including myself), began to rave about the new Oculus Rift, which was supposed to revolutionize everything by adding a full 360-view to your visual experience. Now, in 2017, I can see that the future of virtual reality is shining brightly, lighting a path that will open new doors to many different fields of exploration and experience. The idea of VR has already enraptured me, and while I personally can’t say that I plan to major in a field that would aid this technology further, I can say I am excited to partake in the activities for it.

Michael Bowles/REX/Shutterstock

Links:

Barnes, Brooks. “At Sundance, the Theme Is Climate Change.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/movies/at-sundance-the-theme-is-climate-change.html.

Farago, Jason. “Virtual Reality Has Arrived in the Art World. Now What?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 Feb. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/arts/design/virtual-reality-has-arrived-in-the-art-world-now-what.html?_r=0&mtrref=undefined.

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