virtual reality: an experience of the future

posted by Catherine Appleby Jun 06, 2016

“You’ll be blown away”

“It was the best thing ever”

That’s what they told me. I wasn’t sure I believed them. How could I be sure it wasn’t just hype? Another new plaything we would be obsessed with for five minutes before moving on to the new shiny technology.

As I stood in our office edit suite, removing my blue wig (it was a special kind of Friday) and replacing it with a big, black headset and headphones, I was sceptical.

My experience with virtual reality to date was limited; a quick play on Google Cardboard which caused my usually reliable phone to crash (momentary horror when I thought I might lose my Plants vs Zombies high score) hadn’t been particularly inspiring.

But seconds after the HTC Vive loading up “The Lab” I was a convert.

The reason I found the experience so impressive was the sheer scale.  As humans we are very visual creatures and find it much easier to understand something if we can see it rather than being told.

This sense of scale offered by VR allows users to have immersive experiences in worlds they would otherwise have no access to. I was sucked into a virtual world, playing with planets, firing a bow and arrow and coming face to face with a blue whale.

While I was in The Lab, I lost all concept of time. I could have been playing for ten minutes or I could have been there two hours.

There is an argument that VR is just another gimmick. A flash in the pan technology which we have seen much of during the past years as technology continues to evolve. I believe that virtual reality has the ability to endure. But it needs compelling content to survive.

To have longevity, virtual reality must take a route which is based on truly great content. Content that is educational, provides value or opens people’s eyes to an experience they would otherwise not be able to have.

Already, VR is being used as a vehicle to change, and I’m excited to see how it evolves as it grows in maturity.