For a Real Immersive Experience, Take Your VR Headset Underwater

Summer Beach Bag Necessities:

  • Swim Suit — CHECK
  • Towel — CHECK
  • Virtual Reality (VR) Headset — SURE!

March begins tomorrow and the days are getting warmer. Summer is in sight. A few months from now, don’t be surprised by the occasional sighting of a crazed swimmer with a waterproof VR headset. VR is taking us off the ground and soon. We’re headed for VR immersion — underwater.

Stephen Greenwood and Allan Evans are changing the VR tides (haha, intentional joke). The two visionaries, employed at Discovery Digital Networks, see the potential for VR to be more gratifying. “I think there’s a little more of a suspension of disbelief when you’re in a radically different environment,” Greenwood said. “When you don’t have a sense of the ground or gravity or what’s up or what’s down, it makes it that much more believable.” (Source) Greenwood and Evans aim to make an impact in the realms of entertainment, scuba-diving, and physical therapy.

VR underwater is an exciting concept. A few months ago, I was one of a handful of people allowed entry into Bjork Digital. The 80-minute exhibition, which included autoerotic robotic video, was entrancing. However, we experienced the art while sitting in spinning 360-degree stools and tethered to cords. But VR in water offers boundless opportunity in entertainment, sports, and medical care.

The underwater headset is in the prototype phase. Greenwood and Evans created the basis of the mock-up with a waterproof Android smartphone, adhesive tape, a block of 3D printed plastic, a snorkeling mask, and a Google Cardboard kit. In Phase 2, the team plans to include a positional tracking system, lights, and a camera.

Sigh. It may not be here in time for Summer 2017, but Greenwood and Evans’s enthusiasm makes me think the goggles are worth the wait. Bring your sunscreen.