Dec 1, 2017
THE REAL VIRTUAL REALITY
Virtual Reality (VR) was until just a few years ago a theme whose presence became regular on science fiction novels, series and motion pictures and whose applicability on the citizens daily life was, at best, doubtful.
By NUNO AFONSO
Truth is that more and more companies are betting on the creation of Virtual Reality programs and environments, as for example the "New York Times" that went so far as to create a whole section devoted to VR contents.
"Stand alongside Iraqi forces during a battle with ISIS. Walk on a planet three billion miles from the sun. Join our award-winning journalists at the centre of it all. Explore the library of 360-degree virtual reality experiences for yourself", so promises the "New York Times" on its "NYT VR" section. The AMC television channel also created an AMC VR section that, amongst other luxuries, allows its viewers to experience in first-hand how it would be like to be inside an episode of its popular cannibal Zombies series "The Walking Dead", as well as other series produced by that channel.
In 2016 Facebook already had 400 elements on its Virtual Reality research team, this year it released to the public its partnership with Samsung, the result being Oculus, a VR device equipped with a controller and, as an extra option, with a gaming controller for that which, at first, will be the most common use for this sort of technology on its first years: electronic games on VR environment. The immersion experiences on cinematic or documentary environments are the options that require an extra care on the graphic level, and with Oculus only a certain grain will allow you to distinguish between the real world and the virtual one, and that will be a plus when the masses, and not only the gamers, adhere to VR.
But the potential of Virtual Reality and subsequent 3D is being channelled through Oculus for one of Mark Zuckerberg's most ambitious projects, Facebook Spaces. For starters, the Oculus VR does not force you to own a computer. That's right, thanks to the current technological advances all you need to fully enjoy the virtual experience, instead of a super-computer with a gigantic memory – the least you would need not so many years ago – is just to own a smartphone. You take your cell phone, log in to your Facebook profile using a specific Oculus Rift code and it will scan your photographs in order to create a digital identity as accurate as possible to your real life self.
Your avatar on this new Facebook experience has a slight inspiration on Second Live, given that while wearing the Oculus you will have the appearance of a comics cartoon although you can still interface with other users that are still not using Facebook Spaces, the interface being in the form of flying screens that resembles Tom Cruise's "Minority Report", you can also drag the chat items, create 3D drawings and hang out on the same virtual space with other users from all over the globe but that will most surely take a selfie with you in Spaces.
Of course, besides all the above interaction options on a new virtual world, Facebook did not overlook the immersion experiences and it is also possible to visit cities and locations spread throughout the world without leaving your living room. The price is also not much of an impediment, this Facebook/Samsung partnership allows you to purchase Oculus and its due controller starting at 130 dollars, 60 dollars extra if you are an inveterate gamer more interested on living your favourite adventures as realistically as possible (needless to say that Marvel already adopted the concept). There are several options on the table, given the didactic potential of this new technology will most likely revolutionize the long distance learning concept, homework and even some therapeutic options. It's a brave new world!