I think there is a bright future for Virtual Reality.

VR has the potential to be one of the biggest platform shifts ever and you can be on the leading edge of that. - Michael Abrash

With the sense of “presence” in the virtual world, interacting with another person brings a new level of connection and wonder in virtual space.

Multiplayer is amazing in VR. - Palmer Lucky

Forget uncanny valley for a moment, ignore the dreary march toward realism, even just mapping positional movement and rotation of a person’s head is distinctly, recognizably human. Two cubes (players) are able to tell that they are both human, interact and communicate with just that alone.

Above comic panel from Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

Non-default communication systems that encourage, emotional expression, the emergence of new, player created, in-game languages and efficient co-operative and competitive – sometimes deceptive – communicative behavior have a massive potential.

Exploring imaginative worlds together with friends, actual “social” games will be amazing.

The Facebook purchase was a stomach drop, an unexpected sour taste. It could have been inevitable and unavoidable since the venture capital relationship. We can look on the bright side with the increased chance of mass adoption, lower cost of product, easier R&D. The thought that if VR is what we hope, if Oculus succeeds beyond what we expect, knowing a company like Facebook is leading things is just heart breaking.

  • Competition is good.
  • VR is not Oculus.
  • Oculus is VR.

Sony’s Project Morpheus is a massive win. They have the ability to bring VR to the mainstream, push innovation, make things “just work” for the consumer. Long term though, I do have a lot of concerns for them.

First VR hardware is going to evolve rapidly on the PC as you can already see happening with the Rift. While the consoles, if they even support VR will remain static for years. Second, there are going to be far more hardware and software developers figuring out how to do awesome VR on the PC than on the consoles, and they will be much free-er to experiment. Third, VR needs as much processing power as it can get, remember we are talking about stereo rendering at 95 hertz, and a high end PC is already much more powerful than consoles, with the gap due to increase for years to come. And because of power and heat constraints PCs will always be far more powerful than mobile. - Michael Abrash

Sony are extremely inspiring in that they seem to have the right mindset.

  • “VR is a medium, not a peripheral
  • Presence is the killer app
  • Games are only one type of content
  • Emotion is amplified
  • The experience is social
  • It is for everyone”

“…so that when NASA makes it to a new place, people with PS4 at home can feel like they’re right with them.”

Hardware limits push for less focus on graphics. Presence is priority. Where once we expected to be more than happy with head tracking and screens in front of our eyes, we realize we need perfection like never before. Lag means motion sickness. Unintended movements, bad calibration, camera jumps are actually physically bad. Resolution so close to your eyes so obviously needs increasing.

The key to presence is convincing perceptual systems that operate at a low level, well below our conscious awareness that they are perceiving reality. - Michael Abrash

Immersion means you feel surrounded by the virtual world. Presence means you feel in, the virtual world. - Michael Abrash

Trying to describe presence is bound to come up short. You can only really understand it by experiencing it but I will give it a shot. Presence is when; even though you know you’re in a demo room and there is nothing really there, you can’t help reaching out to try to touch a cube. When you automatically duck your head to avoid a pipe that is dangling from the ceiling. When you feel uneasy because there is a huge block hanging over your head. When your unwilling to step off a ledge. Its taking off the head mounted display and being disoriented to find yourself back in reality. Its more than just looking at some place interesting, its flipping the switch that makes you believe, deep in your lizard brain, that you are some place interesting. Presence is one of the most powerful experiences you can have outside reality precisely because it operates by engaging along many of the same channels as reality. For many people presence is simply magic. - Michael Abrash

...Just watch Michael Abrash’s “What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will Be within Two Years”

The Valve holodeck experience from Steam Dev Days 2014.

The good news is, the technology is nearly ready.
The exciting thing is that lot still to learn.

There seems to be a push for “360 degree video”, which sounds cool but I have a lot of concerns… The majority of motion sickness comes from your brain believing its actually moving in virtual space, but it receiving contradictory physical stimulus – the opposite reasoning but same effect as car sickness.

“Kinesthetic dissonance”.

…then there’s one huge change in our vision that occurs every few seconds that causes everything to be black: blinking. Luckily, our brain is quite smart and ignores the lack of signals from our eyes when we blink so we never notice our vision getting obscured by our eyelids. Likewise, when you turn your head, it never seems like the quick panning blur effect in movies because your brain knows that your complete vision will be shifting. It ignores a lot of the visual data when your head is moving and it prepares to show you new information once your head has stopped. If there is any disconnect between the motion you feel and the motion you see, your brain can get confused and this is the main cause of motion sickness. - PrionBacon

If an actor, or camera man is jumping around, running or moving where you don’t intend; it could be bad. There are things to work out…

Motion sickness or kinetosis, also known as travel sickness, is a condition in which a disagreement exists between visually perceived movement and the vestibular system’s sense of movement. Depending on the cause, it can also be referred to as seasickness, car sickness, simulation sickness or airsickness. - Wikipedia

Virtual cinema screens while seemingly unimaginative, could actually be amazing in certain situations like for long plane trips. Feel as though you have left your cramped seat and escape to a complete virtual cinema just for you.

Virtual School trips to the actual places of study. Virtual reality educational experiences.

Virtual desk like Heavy Rain ARI? VR in person meetings? ISP using Rift to explain lag Gender swap experiment

I think there is a big potential for Neurotech integration. You already have something on your head anyway, why not seamlessly introduce biometrics and brainwave monitoring?

Warp VRjam game 2014

Warp is a VR experiment built by Alexey Botkov and I for the Oculus VRjam 2013. We played it quite safe (read: boring) in terms of gameplay but spent a lot of time focusing on the feel, the experience, visual aesthetic and usability. While a bad game, I feel like the experiment was a success in that (from what I have seen) nobody has been given motion sickness by it, at least not to the degree of some first person controlled experiences. Its sort of a perfect “seated experience”. We managed this by keeping the overall movement in the world always going forward, in a single direction, no weird movement, no unintended jumps, no scene changes and ALWAYS allowing for player head movement to be one-to-one.
While cliche, we loved the idea of a spaceship cockpit simulator. With limited time, resources and the acceptance that there are a lot of them on the way, we wondered if a third person view of a player controller ship would work at all in VR. It did.

Also: Frogshark on TV! - overall a bit weird, awkward and funny to see 90 minutes reduced down to a couple seconds of screen time.