This is a good time to try virtual reality

This is a good time to try virtual reality

I’m an early adopter of virtual reality (VR). I’ve been using it regularly for years now, bringing my headgear with me to work to use at lunch.

I’ve written about it in this blog a number of times, but I know that many people haven’t tried it, or haven’t tried It in years.

It’s now much easier to use than it used to be. It also works better than it used to work. Once you get a device on your network (which I know can be a challenge with any kind of device for some people), it’s not any harder than sending a text.

The “motion sickness” that some people felt in the past has been largely resolved for most people, I believe. That had to do with lag: as you moved your head, if the image lagged behind your eye position, it was disorienting. Devices are so much faster than they were 10 years ago, it’s less of an issue (but I won’t say it’s completely gone for everybody).

Just in the past couple of years, the option of “stand-alone” devices, which don’t need to be plugged into a computer or have you put your phone in it (the latter is how I do VR currently), have become easily available and relatively affordable. The

Oculus Go (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is a standalone which is about $200 at times of writing. I know that’s not cheap, but it’s less than a lot of options have been, and it has a 4.4 star customer rating out of 5 with 4,073 reviews at the time of writing.

If you are technically adept, you can get much less expensive devices which will work with your phone (Android or iPhone)…I’ve seen them for under $30. They work, but you don’t have the same sorts of options for content and they can be a lot harder to set-up and use.

What are you going to do with them?

Well, there are a lot of “experiences” (that’s what apps are called for VR)…sure, games, but you can also just “be” in a place by yourself, like underwater with fish swimming around you, on a train, or in space.

However, the reason I’m especially recommending them now is because of the social experiences.

That’s what many of us are going to be missing…hanging out with family, friends, or strangers.

Yes, you can do that just by voice on a phone call. Yes, you can do video calls (which devices like the Amazon Echoes with screens have made much simpler).

In VR, though, even though you are seeing an avatar (a cartoon) of the person, you can see some of their body language, and that’s crucial.

VR actually feels more natural to me than a videocall like Skype.

That seems ridiculous, right? How can a cartoon, maybe one with purple skin or cat ears, feel more realistic than an actual image of the real person?

The etiquette on a videocall is that you just stare at the screen. It’s considered to be bad form to even turn your head away to look at something else in the room. That just isn’t natural.

Let me give you an example.

I was being interviewed in VR by Len Edgerly of The Kindle Chronicles

My interview about (and IN) VR with Len Edgerly…and giveaways!

We were virtually sitting next to each other in a forest-type scene…and, as I recall, a deer appeared across a river. Just as I would in real life, I could see Len turn his head to look at the deer, and I could follow suit.

The same thing happened when we were underwater, and a grouper swam by.

That’s the real world way things work.

You follow someone’s gaze, which you can do as the avatar moves its head the same way the person does.

Depending on the set-up, you may also be able to see hand gestures (that requires a sensor of some kind to pick up what the hand is doing, although there are some alternatives to that).

You can also look around you: off to the side, behind you, above you. That’s what people do. I’m amused when people seem to think that single-tasking is natural. If you were on the savannah making a stone axe and weren’t, at the same time, paying attention to noise in the tall grass, you wouldn’t last long. 🙂

You can watch a video together. You can go to a show or a sports event (although those may be recorded currently). You can play games.

You can use a platform like vTime to just be in a place and talk to other people (whether you know them or not). Here’s a listing of those:

Best VR Social Platforms from G2

I expect there to be a considerable increase in VR use over the next year or so…and augmented reality (where you see what is around you in the real world, but other things overlay it…and that could include people at some point) will be much bigger than that in the future.

If you have questions or comments about VR, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: Amazon.com (Smile.Amazon.com)

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