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Thu, 15 Dec 2016


So today I went down to the Roosevelt Field shopping mall. I saw Microsoft had a store there, and often I would just walk by, but I decided to see what they had there.

Among the various devices were boxes with Oculus Rifts and HTC Vives in them. They even had the HTC Vive set up for a demo. I have of course been hearing a lot about VR since the Oculus Rift Kickstarter kicked off in 2012 (actually I've been hearing about it before that even). I've never tried the Vive or Rift though. Actually the Rift's hand controllers, Oculus Touch, just came out last week, so I'm not all that late in this.

It was quite amazing. There's been a number of times in my life that I have seen a new piece of technology - a PC, a modem, a Unix box on the Internet, a web browser - and it was immediately obvious how impactful this technology would be on the world. VR in the Vive was one of those experiences. Seeing it you can foresee the massive changes this new piece of technology will engender.

One thing a lot of people who have seen this have said is you have to see it to understand. You can explain it to people - but people won't really have an understanding of it until they use it. Because it is so visceral. It definitely has the "presence" within the immersion that people talk about.

I didn't realize how interactive it was. I walked around, I was under the ocean looking at fish, whales and a sunken ship, I picked up objects, I picked up mallets and played Mary Had A Little Lamb on a xylophone in a wizard's workshop, which then played over the store's speakers.

When I took the headset off after a few minutes I experienced what some have discussed. It was slightly disorienting. My central nervous system said - how did you get from the bottom of the ocean to wandering around this mall so quickly? It's a signal of just how this relatively inexpensive and relatively portable system really has finally got immersion presence right.

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