Let’s talk about the 2010 movie TRON: Legacy. A fairly recent sci-fi flick which will serve as a frame of reference. In the film, humans are able to enter what’s known as “the Grid”, a computer simulation where humans may interact with software. It was created to serve as “an experimental platform where all forms of research could be carried out at unparalleled speeds”, where the process of interacting with the machine’s programs can serve as a gateway to a better understanding of the structure of its systems. Disregarding the Grid’s obvious early 80s sci-fi flair, it gives us much in the way of inspiration. Why sit before a few computer monitors writing out programs (in 2D I might add) when the engineer is able to be inside his or her creation? Such an immersion into a program’s ‘physical’ space may create opportunities for thought that would have otherwise been lost when such abstract ideas were carried out on a two-dimensional, glowing box.
I was immediately enthralled. Despite being a small prototype written by a lone developer, it shows excellent promise and a true proof-of-concept for the topic of this article. We’re far from the immersive experience that TRON: Legacy predicts, however, this small example shows what’s possible now. With the continuing development of the Oculus Rift and other similar devices, we are on the cusp of a Cambrian Explosion in VR. Not only will these products revolutionize consumer entertainment (especially long-term when their prices fall), but they will also allow us to explore many new avenues for creative expression.
This doesn’t just apply to software development. Imagine artists using 3D modeling software to creative immersive environments where the person is part of the art, experiencing it. Or, they may use VR software for designing and testing new ideas concerning art in the physical word; architects would definitely make use of that capability. What about virtual worlds, such as Second Life (where development with the Oculus Rift is already occurring)? Humans across the world meeting and interacting in more personal ways, not just through the 2D view that a computer monitor provides. The possibilities are wide-ranging and endless.
So, I’ll get off my soap box now else I continue ad nauseam. But, I will leave you with a thought: What if in the future, our “dreams in code” shall become a reality; not mere dreaming but living?