Oh This Crazy VR Hype


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I’m on the “over-hyped and not ready for delivery” side of the argument, as I was with 3D tv - and that was a much easier sell.
There is no question that VR is pretty much guaranteed to hit 100% of the “single men with gadget obsessions” market, and probably quite quickly (assuming that all of those single men actually have room to install the equipment - it’s not like a very big television/projector this time) - the Sony presales certainly suggest that’s the case.
But outside of that? It’s far too early to tell. The equipment isn’t yet up to the job (in many ways it’s worse that VR 1.0 when at least we were willing to suspend disbelief) although the demonstrations are spectacular. It’s very unclear whether or not it has even quite reached plug-and-play conditions; I imagine that’s giving the big players some headaches. After all, a big launch can’t afford to be even slightly “off” or the backlash will be horrendous…

I would like to make it clear at this point that I have nothing against VR; I backed Oculus (because, yes, I’m a single man with a gadget obsession) but even now I think it’s still too far away from mass market to explain the risks that are being taken. (Maybe there are some very big business applications that it could fit already, but it’s not really yet a consumer product.) Certainly the arguments laid out in the article are very strong: the reason Candy Crush/Angry Birds/etc hit the big time was a combination of small footprint (mobiles), casual setup (five seconds to start playing and games can be over in five minutes) and the social media. explosion. None of those seem to me to be relevant here, and whilst there will doubtless be other things that haven’t yet happened (because predicting the future is a mug’s game), I don’t know what they are.


A VR gadget came along free with my Galaxy S7, so I tried it out.

  1. Still not friendly to people who wear glasses.
  2. I couldn’t focus the text enough to make it non-blurry. Readable, but headache-inducing. Maybe because of #1.
  3. Motion sickness ahoy!
  4. Looking at pictures in 3D of places I will probably never travel to is kind of neat. Why hasn’t someone come up with this before?



Nevertheless, there’s always the promise of the virtual desktop:


My thoughts exactly. It’s come a long way, but the barrier to entry is still just a little too high.


This article on Magic Leap was pretty interesting, it’s an augmented reality (or ‘mixed reality’ as the article calls it) system that can superimpose computer-generated objects on your real environment in a way that apparently makes it feel like they’re “really there”–I wonder if that could end up being more commonly used than actual VR, as it could have more social uses and also you don’t need to worry about bumping into stuff. The theme park style attraction that was created with this sort of technology sounded pretty fun.


Except Magic Leap is essentially vapors are at this point. Or at least in the “Segway Preannouncement Hype Train” phase.

I’ve tried the DK2. It’s legitimately cool. The platform may be too isolating to really grab hold of the world’s living rooms, but it is a pretty amazing solo experience; even if it doesn’t change every paradigm, I think it has enough of a toehold to be sustainably popular.


I don’t even think 3D movies are ready for the big time yet. I’m not about to get laser eye surgery just because they almost never work right with glasses.

I didn’t know what a couple of the human characters in Avatar actually looked like until someone posted a picture a couple weeks after I saw the film.


My husband and my daughter both managed to make theirs work with their glasses, but I haven’t tried it myself yet so I am not sure what they did. My daughter really liked it, I heard a lot of “Whoa. Whoa. WHOAAAAA!!!”


Real estate people want to sell homes through VR (sigh).

Well, sure. Higher end homes for sale already often have high quality 360-degree panorama shots that you can pan and zoom around in on your regular screen. For VR, that’s a whole lot of content and the infrastructure for making it already in place.


I won’t be interested in 3D movies until they cost the same as 2D movies. Or rather, I have no interest in 3D movies and I won’t watch them until they don’t cost more than the 2D ones I’m perfectly happy with. But cinemas want to compensate for falling attendances by milking the remaining audiences for more money.

And I’m not interested in VR full stop. It’s ludicruously expensive and sounds like it still works about as well as those Virtuality arcade games in the 90s. It just feels like a solution looking for a problem.



Maybe it’s more like a platform looking for its killer app? It sure ain’t worth what they’re asking just yet—but prices will come down, hardware and software will improve…


If VR was really ready for prime time would there wouldn’t be any need to host the whole conference in a single physical location.


At the moment, I’m thinking VR is gon’ be like 3D Gaming.

For all the hooplah, I don’t see any game experience that I really want to endure the goggle-eyes, disorientation, and isolation for.

A good game experience could change that, but…not forthcoming anytime soon.


Maybe we’re looking at it the wrong way—it’s not meant to replace conventional gaming, it’s meant to replace DRUGS.


It’s interesting to read reviews, because you can see the sunk-cost fallacy in action. At best you see the “It’s amazing, it’s the future! Sure, it makes you sick, and there are no applications that justify buying it, or that you’d even want to use more than once… but Amazing! The Future!” Part of the problem is that the VR applications so far were built to sell the tech - short, “wow” experiences people saw at conferences and trade shows. So you get amazing 10-30 minute experiences that you don’t want to repeat, at best. Which isn’t what you need for actual home use of VR, but no one is quite sure what to do with it beyond that, or even whether it’s actually something you’d want to use beyond that, outside of a few applications (driving/piloting sims, architecture).
I played around with VR a bit int he '90s and saw the possibilities, but those possibilities still don’t seem like they’ve been realized yet, which makes me skeptical. It also feels like they’ve not only failed to solve all the problems that existed int he '90s with the technology but have managed to add new ones…



I loosened the straps as much as I could and occasionally had to physically hold the thing away from my face a bit to relieve the pressure it was putting on my glasses. It needed to be further away still to focus properly though.


In an ideal world, when I play Dirt Rally (my current gaming obsession) I could move my head naturally to look down at gauges, or in the direction of travel when the car’s sliding around, or at the mirror or over my shoulder when I have to reverse out of whatever mess I ran into. Or when playing Overwatch (when it finally comes out) I could glance around without turning my character’s whole body and changing my direction of travel.

But in pactice, it still basically sucks.


I disagree. They (Oculus) DO seem to have solved the problems of the '90s. Now it’s just a matter of content, and there’s little doubt that it’s coming.

It’s not enough to show off technology X. For it to catch on, it needs to be done WELL. Tablets were around long before the iPad, but failed to catch on. The iPad did it WELL, and the market took off.

The biggest threat to Oculus is the cheap knock-offs or Rifts connected to underperforming PCs, that will turn people away from the technology without seeing it done well.

Having said that, I see VR as almost exclusively for gaming. I’m more looking forward to AR.