Recently, I had a weird moment in VR which I am excited to share with you.
After playing around with Oculus Rift DK2 and screening different VR-Apps, a Quake 1 porting directly caught my attention. Quake 1, the ego-shooter from 1996, developed by id Software. As one of the first 3D games with polygon based models it was one of the big milestones in 3D game experience development in the middle of the 90s. I am sure the 30+ of you definitely know it.
Source 1: http://www.theriftarcade.com/quake-1-updated-with-dk2-support/
Source 2: http://www.theriftarcade.com/quake-1-review-for-oculus-rift/
Source 3: https://github.com/jeremiah-sypult/Quakespasm-Rift/releases
I remembered the hours I spent in front of my old CRT 17″ inch monitor that was flickering with 75Hz into my eyes. At that time it was just amazing. So I was really looking forward to experience Quake with the Oculus Rift. The first steps in virtual space immediately created a gameplay that was even more visceral than 20 years ago.
But there was also something else I observed. Suddenly I had this short, but very intense moment where past and future somehow fused into the present. Sounds strange and indeed it is. But in retrospective you often are kind of the observer, watching yourself sometimes from a 3rd person perspective. So in this weird moment I saw myself in the past sitting in front of my PC, viewing through this window frame like monitor, playing Quake and now I was just in the same game – in real immersive 3D. It was a totally new experience close to a Déjà-vu, but different. Somehow I was twisting around my own memories.
So why am I writing this?
Because this simple example showed me once again how much more intense and immersive the experience with VR is compared to the established technologies that let us consume digital content today. VR, accompanied by an increased field of view, 3D, head tracking and motion tracking creates something that nowadays is often called Sense of Presence. And I totally agree. Or as Chelsea Stark writes on Mashable „As VR simulations become more immersive than ever, these emotional moments will feel more and more like the human perception of memories“ (–> article on Mashable)
The invention of the Internet sent society into something that German magazines love to call „Gleichzeitigkeit“. VR-technologies now even have the power to somehow bridge past and present by providing the possibility of recalling memories virtually.
But not only virtual reality, of course also the augmentation of reality with digital visuals, abbreviated as AR, will be one of the key technologies of the future. Within the next 5 to 10 years VR and AR together might push the next dimension, the dimension of space, to another level of perception. Imagine you will be able to be present physically everywhere and anytime in an unlimited nonphysical world.
How would that change your everyday life?
Blast from the past
I have to admit that VR fascinates me since cyberspace and cyberpunk culture got big back in the 80s – Bladerunner, Lawnmower Man, Neuromancer, Strange Days, Total Recall and Tron – just to mention a few classics of sci-fi movies and literature. (–> see also our related blog post from 2010)
Today, the technology is mature and cheap enough to start the next big thing. All big companies are in, developing their unique systems and we are curious to see the differences, constraints, possibilities, pros and cons of Sony Project Morpheus, HTC Vive VR, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Magic Leap, Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens and many more. Also established as well as new social, video and gaming networks are preparing themselves, like e.g. facebook that acquired Oculus one year ago, or vyuu from Belgium aiming to be the „Youtube“ in VR or SteamVR by Valve.
As designers we are asked to embrace these new chances for new meaningful fields of applications, avoiding a dystopia as sketched in 80s and 90s science fiction.
Imagine for example realistic virtual training scenarios for doctors or firefighters. Imagine new ways to experience scientific experiments or teaching materials at school. Imagine an immersive design process with virtual prototyping. Imagine sharing emotions and memories with your family and friends …
The opportunities in the virtual world are almost unlimited. And we are excited to get our hands on.
To sum it up
I am convinced that these new realities will not only entertain us, but will have a huge impact on how we think, learn, educate, work, communicate, get inspired, relax, travel, reflect on ourselves and others in the future.
Let’s shape the future of VR and AR together! Get in touch with us. We would love to hear your thoughts.
For all you skeptics out there that now grumble „I got sick in VR…“ I just want to take up the following phrase I just read from AMD’s Liquid-VR-SDK: „…if your CPU and GPU can’t keep up you throw up…“ ^^
„Twisted memories in VR“ is definitely a story we might research further. So stay tuned for new experiments.