Spy Kids , The Matrix , Tron Legacy.. ‘Ready Player One’
Virtual Reality (VR) is something interesting coming up in the field of technology, the reason why people aren’t so excited about it so much? Simple. People don’t know how to feel about it. And also, there’s a school of thought that believes for this one we are wasting our time on trying to make it happen.
You saw the gadgets and the weapons in Spy Kids, you came to embrace the red pill and the blue pill from the Matrix, you saw the world in a different dimension when a simple arcade game happened to be the portal to a whole new world believed to be the Tron Legacy.
And the most recent motion picture to join the long storyline being told involving the ever-increasing concept of VR is Ready Player One. A 2018 movie that shows the world well advanced into the centuries with everything and everyone living their lives in a virtual world; becoming whoever they wanted to be and whatever adventure they wanted to pursue. It’s a dream for people because they get to do most of the things in life that they could ever imagine. Do you remember Avatar?
No, the Blue colored people who had the whole world confused because the only Avatar everyone was familiar with was the last Air bender. Alas, clarity came when the full title of the movie was understood to be ‘James Cameron’s Avatar’, where the protagonist who was wheelchair-bound received an Avatar that took on an alien look as humans took time off to investigate and study a species they had come across.
The amazing thing for him through it all was the fact that in his Avatar mode, he could walk. That feeling was miraculous for him and eventually, he became attached to it so much that he grew attached to the species and even went to the extent of falling in love. And it is in these moments that people get a bit flustered about virtual reality because that’s all it is; a reality that is just virtual.
The dictionary describes it all as a realistic and immersive simulation of a 3D environment created using interactive software and hardware which is experienced or controlled by the movement of the body. The question people ask is how did all of this talk of VR come about? You’d be interested to know that we know the world through our senses and perception structures and systems.
In school growing up, we all learned and were taught that we have five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing. These are however only our most obvious sense organs. That’s right; they aren’t just all our senses, just the obvious ones. The truth is that humans have many more senses than this, such as a sense of balance for example or a sense of humor as some people would argue. These other sensory inputs, plus some special processing of sensory information by our brains ensures that we have a rich flow of information from the environment to our minds. Reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brain’s sense-making mechanisms.
The long and short of this is that, if you can present or feed your senses with a kind of made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t there, but from your perspective, it would be perceived as real. This isn’t anything weird or new to us, opinionated people have fed themselves with a certain kind of info and that is what they believe is not just their opinions but rather facts.
Reality to them is lived in a certain ‘sense’, that is until they come across a different perspective or view that cracks open their vault of ignorance for them to appreciate what they had been missing, to break out of something we would refer to as a virtual reality they had created for themselves.
The anime ‘Sword Art Online’ is a perfect description to talk about VR. Your most infantile memory of VR however and this is for the gamers were traditional ‘Police and Thief’ but modernistic ally speaking; ‘Family Game’. Remember that game console that came with a game controller and a gun? The gun was specifically included for a certain game where you shot down animals for a high score.
You tell me that wasn’t exhilarating and that you didn’t feel at one point that you wouldn’t mind trying a real gun. You felt you could take aim and shoot and you wouldn’t miss. That feeling? That’s what VR gives people when they try it out when they realize they can do all that they’ve dreamed of. However, the whole process and system to make it work has not been easy at all. The truth is trying to create a different kind of reality is in a sense trying to play God and that in no way is an easy feat no matter how small the gesture.
There is a range of computer technology and systems that are used for this purpose of VR to be facilitated, such as headsets, Omni-directional treadmills, and special gloves. These are used to stimulate our senses together to create the illusion of reality. When actual VR took root in our minds as an all-encompassing simulacrum is a bit fuzzy. As with most technological breakthroughs, the vision must have begun with science fiction—specifically Stanley G. Weinbaum’s 1935 short story “Pygmalion’s Spectacles,” in which a scientist devises a pair of glasses that can “make it so that you are in the story, you speak to the shadows, and the shadows reply, and instead of being on a screen, the story is all about you, and you are in it.” In the late 1960s, a University of Utah computer science professor named Ivan Sutherland created a contraption called the Sword of Damocles.
It was so large it had to be suspended from the ceiling. Nonetheless, it was the first “head-mounted display”; users who had its twin screens attached to their head could look around the room and see a virtual 3-D cube hovering in mid-air. Virtual reality can be divided into; the simulation of a real environment for training and education and the development of an imagined environment for a game or interactive story. The Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML) allows the creator to specify images and the rules for their display and interaction using textual language statements.
This in all its glitz and glamour is more difficult than it sounds, since our senses and brains are evolved to provide us with a finely synchronized and mediated experience. If anything and I mean anything connected to our environment or our body, is even a little off we can usually tell. This is where you’ll hear terms such as ‘immersiveness’ and ‘realism’ enter the conversation. Everything responsible and playing a role in the technology to make it feasible has to make the immersion process seamless and be in sync enough to provide its realistic presentations and showings.
The truth is there is so much that VR is doing in the pipeline and experimenting with, and though amongst circles especially in this part of the world, it isn’t the most popular side of technology it might be the most groundbreaking yet after AI. And I’m sure VR is just sitting there saying, ‘give me and my God time. Well, If it has a God, in reality, it is bringing to us.