Virtual Reality now just reality

Virtual Reality now just reality

Yesterday, the BBC and Virgin Media both jogged a distant, childhood memory.

25 years ago, this is what passed for state-of-the-art entertainment. As if trips to London weren’t glamorous enough for a suburban adolescent boy, the then sparkling Trocadero Centre, right in the heart of the capital’s West End, hosted a new mecca: Virtuality pods.

What passed for fun in 1991…
© Virtuality

Myself and my fellow spotty oiks, possibly including the early Ron Weasley prototype in the above video, queued up to don a clunky, leaden helmet wired to an arcade-style cockpit. For five minutes, we then blundered around a bare, dystopian black and blue world where crudely-shaped robots shambled about, occasionally firing “laser” lines.

We wanted it to be as much fun as Tron. It wasn’t. Actually, it was a bit crap. But we could turn our heads and look around at other black and blue parts of that black and blue world and that, at least, was different.

Probably wisely, Virtuality’s VR died a slow and quiet death. But now, two and half decades on, what it really wanted to be seems to have arrived.

I tried on a friend’s Samsung Gear headset a couple of months ago. It was very impressive but, until yesterday, it still had the air of a curiosity. Yesterday was when the BBC announced it’s screening some of the Rio 2016 Olympics in 360° vision and Virgin Media released the world’s first 360° sustainability video report. Both look great.

3D TV always seemed a bit gimmicky to me, but a chance to feel like you’re really there and be fully immersed in the field of play? That sounds much more exciting. Bring on the Games!

RESEARCH QUESTION: 360° screens – a glimpse of the future or this week’s white elephant?

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