I had drafted the post below and saved it for a final edit before I saw the news that Facebook bought Oculus. Hmm. I treasure the interactions and possibilities of virtual worlds and I’ve watched Facebook devolve into a jumble of ads, requests for Candy Crush lives, and out of sequence zombie posts. This is not exciting news to me.
I’ve coveted an Oculus Rift headset for a while (and even more now that Second Life put out a call for OR/SL beta testers). Last week, Sony entered the arena with an upcoming VR headset for the PS4, codenamed Morpheus. However, as much as I really want a first generation VR headset, I hope they are only a brief flicker in the evolution of this technology. The current headset designs make me think of strapping on one of these:
Don’t get me wrong; I loved my View-Master as a kid and hope it’s still tucked away in my parents’ attic somewhere. But as a 3D viewing technology, it’s bulky and limited. I dream of something more like the holobands that were used to access V-World on the science fiction TV series Caprica:
Holobands are closer in size to a binocular Google Glass and I understand that they are fictional, but I see them as having several advantages over the current Gen One headsets. As someone with long, fine hair, I look at the Sony proposed design and the OR and know that I’d need a strategy to avoid getting snagged all the time. If you have a loved one who already complains about your absorption in gaming or a virtual world, completely blocking him/her off with a dark headset isn’t going to improve the situation. And, I can’t help wondering if the experience would be bearable for my claustrophobic friends.
A Glass-like headset works fine for reality augmentation but may never be able to create the sensation of virtual presence and immersion. I still suspect that VR headsets will have limited adoption until they’re closer to that size and weight. So Mr. Zuckerberg, if you’re listening: I’d happily test a Rift to prove myself wrong and do field QA for future releases. Ping me for my info. Oh wait; I’m pretty sure you have it.