Adventures in VR

- Posted in vr

In January I got an HTC Vive and I started exploring VR. I wanted to write a bit about the journey so far.

I came in thinking VR was “interesting” and that I thought I wanted to know more about it.

Over the next few weeks I wrote down some of my findings. You can read a very messy page of my findings somewhere in the research section of this website; I don’t recommend reading this unless you have a very big interest in VR and want to take a deep dive. It’s a collection of notes in multiple languages without a lot of structure.

I plan to rearrange that content to something better, but first I need to know more. I feel that every week my opinion about VR gets influenced by something new and it’s not “complete” yet.

The main reason I got a Vive is because I loved the possibilities from a user interface perspective. Being a UI designer that wants to explore new UI paradigms I felt I needed to explore this.

This proved to be correct – there is a lot of innovation in UI design within VR that is super interesting. Things are evolving at a breakneck speed and when I read about the work that is happening I can only conclude that some very smart people are working on solving problems in VR right now.

If you check r/Vive there is about a 100% guarantee somebody came up with something new and innovative just this week.

After a few weeks of trying different things and getting friends and family to try it as well I have to say I’ve become quite the believer in how much this might change things in the future.

What I want to stress is that VR is not a “gamer” thing.

While the majority of public VR content is game related, the future of VR is not gaming.

Every domain can benefit from VR.

As a designer I especially like the apps about creation.

Imagine having an infinite amount of Legos to build with.

Imagine being able to paint without having to worry about the paint drying up, or about getting a new frame.

Imagine sculpting a massive dragon statue, then zooming out and replicating it to start working on its twin brother.

The way you work on creations – feels – like creating art in the real world. Except without the limitations.

I can think of so many business applications as well.

You can walk into different spaces without physically moving. I was looking for a house last year and I wasted so much time going into house where after 1 minute I already knew they weren’t for me. The real estate business is going to have a blast with VR.

You can see the scale of things, you can really imagine how something is going to “be”. You can literally walk through something that doesn’t exist yet.

It’s not like getting a flythrough through a 3D model. There’s a certain physicality to it that feels pretty real.

I think Google Earth in VR is awesome. Google Earth on the desktop is flat out boring.

You can imagine how things might fit into your home… or onto you. There’s an infinite amount of possibilities for fashion, for retail.

I wrote about MOOCs last time. What I didn’t write about is that I see free education as a big equalizer.

Being able to go to Harvard online is awesome. When I read that some kid in Africa won a Google code contest through perseverance and hard work [and the access to the internet] that makes me happy.

I was born in Belgium and like most of my friends and colleagues I got a lot of chances that people born somewhere else didn’t get.

My parents got me a PC when I was 10. I had the freedom to learn whatever I wanted in my free time. I didn’t have to work and I had all the time in the world to dig into computers. This enabled me to have the job that I have today.

Not everyone gets the same chances.

What does this have to do with VR? Well, I think VR is the next enabler to have experiences that you otherwise couldn’t have.

The current threshold to VR is quite large. You have to own quite the beefy gaming PC, you need enough room to have the full VR experience etc. The cost for a setup is well over €2000.

But in time this cost will become lower. We will be left with a tiny computer that you can attach to your head, some earbuds to plug in and boom – you are in another universe.

VR will become more accessible, and it will be a great enabler for everyone.

It’s going to change quite a few things. If I was into stocks I would buy into some VR companies. Wait and see if I am right :)

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