Matthew Munson: A convert to the exciting world of virtual reality

Being immersed in virtual reality

I’m certainly fascinated by technology, there’s absolutely no way we should reject new developments that are being created with amazing speed.

I was born in the very early 80s, well before mobile phones were a popular phenomenon (I think I got my first one when I was 17 years old, and even that was a brick) and before the world wide web was a thing to make the internet truly accessible.

I’ve been fortunate to see that side of the technical revolution and we’re now in an age when we can see there’s still so much potential out there for growth and development. I belong to the last generation that really was disconnected from technology, not through choice but because it wasn’t portable or developed enough to offer any kind of integration into the world. These days, we’re integrated into the life of technology, rather than the other way around.

Virtual reality

I encountered a new way of technological advancement just this weekend when I was introduced to the world of virtual reality headsets. I knew they existed, of course, but hadn’t ever given them  much thought. They don’t offer anything that I need them for urgently right now and that’s usually the point that I start to sit up and take notice.

My friend, however, has a virtual reality headset and she’s the first person I know to own one, She was very proud of it when she showed me this weekend and I could easily understand why. Plugging her mobile phone into the headset, having loaded up whichever app she wanted – and she started with a space station theme as she knows just how much of a geek I am – she gave me a quick tutorial of how it worked (and then repeated it as she knows I don’t always pick things up first try) and then I was away.

Immersed

Well, I was stunned. The feeling of genuinely being immersed in the world you’re being offered – and you really are immersed, as the VR glasses completely subsume your peripheral vision – was phenomenal. In reality, I knew that I was sat in her front room, her youngest son chatting away to me as I examined the weightless environment of a space station, but my eyes were feeding the primal part of my brain an entirely different signal to what I knew on a conscious level. So, when I moved slightly wrong and lurched around one of the cabins rather dramatically, my stomach lurched too, like it was actually happening. Some part of my being seemed to believe the images fed through to my eyes!

I was also encouraged to learn that I’m as terrified by immersive horror as I am by flat-screen counterparts. Lynda took great delight in making me partake in some horrific alien piece of action and I lasted all of two or three minutes before screaming like a terrified child and begging for mercy. That shows I have at least some humanity left, I hope.

Exciting journey

VR fascinates me. I can see that we’re at the beginning of a long journey of development with it and that is exciting. To be immersed so utterly in other worlds might well mean that fuller and fuller immersion, with better and better quality, is becoming easier to accomplish.

I’m a convert; let’s see where it leads us!

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