How do you sell VR to the millions of people who think it looks ridiculous?

VR is finally getting its close up. Giant conferences, huge media exposure, an elaborate roster of launches planned for this year. The tech is good enough that many of its critics are on board, but the images and videos of people using VR are looking more and more absurd.

Did you see this?

Or this?

This?

You’ve definitely seen this right?

These memes will keep coming. Some of them are deeply funny, some are just mockery. A face with a VR mask covering it makes the person look both privileged and helpless at the same time. It’s an understandable initial response but it’s not a good look for VR.

Remember Google Glass? Remember how incredible the hype for it was before it came out? Then how brutally it fell when #Glassholes started trending?

There are huge differences between Glass and the things that are happening in VR. But, bad early impressions are tough to recover from. Journalists, hardware producers, and designers are in a position right now where they need to articulate what VR is all about. What makes VR cool? Can it do things beyond gaming? Why is it worth $1500?

VR will only be able to cross over into the mainstream if people have good answers to these questions. And the early VR community will only be interesting if a diverse group of people say hell yes to adoption.

It’s raw, and only 20 seconds, but one of the most compelling VR videos I’ve seen was posted yesterday from an VFX artist in Winnipeg. Hit Play.

Many of the big budget, high gloss VR promo videos rely on cuts, or split screens, between the virtual world and the physical. This technique combines it all into one shot and the effect is mesmerizing. You get an honest depiction of how goofy it is to wear VR goggles but you see what he gets to do in them. The dude in NASA t-shirt looks creative. He’s making something. Making something weird that you normally wouldn’t be able to create in your living room.

The technique is known as ‘Mixed Reality Recording.’ It was originally developed to try to visualize AR, but it works just as well for VR.

It’s a tough trick to pull off. Kert went through countless versions to get it right but it doesn’t seem to require much hardware. The third camera is synched with a third HTC Vive controller.

Has anyone else in the VR community been playing with these setups?

It’s a short demo but it feels like a prototype for much to come.


If you like thoughts about VR, robotic sports, and making things more cinematic, follow me on Twitter: @codybrown.

You should also probably follow @kertgatner. He seems awesome.

Special thanks to @kraykray and @sclarsic for reading drafts.