The Reality Behind Virtual Reality

Within the last two years, Virtual Reality has become more than a curiosity. Back then, it was barely out of the borders of sci-fi. Now, VR is here. More than a curiosity or just another game machine, businesses are finding multiple uses including those that take advantage of the other new technology in our world and on our island: Gigabit internet connectivity.

VR Games are a good place to start. Games are easy to talk about. They’re easy to understand because there is often something for everyone to play. But, instead of sitting in a chair while squinting at a screen and trying to move your character around with a mouse or controller, you can now physically move around, ducking and dodging in the game. You want to look left? Look to your left. No scrolling required. Want to open the treasure chest; just reach out and lift. You’re actually inside the imaginary world. Better yet, hook up to the internet on a fast connection and play with teammates or opponents from around the world.

Want something a little more relaxing or more informative? Flying around Google Earth sounds like fun, and it is also a great way to visit a place before you spend money on airplane tickets. Video teleconferences are handy, and are more interactive when the people (or maybe their avatars) are sitting around you.

One active business that is catching on faster than expected is real estate. It’s easy for someone overseas who wants to buy a house in our area to walk around the rooms, check out the views, and see how close the neighbors are by putting on a headset over there and experiencing a 3-D model of the house over here. All it takes is a smartphone, lots of photos, the right software, and a fast server.

We’re lucky enough to have a good example of what’s possible right here on Whidbey. Ethan Worthington of Console Killer Tech has set up a high quality Virtual Reality rig in Tim Leonard’s pinball arcade, Machine SHOP in Langley. His equipment tracks your motions within about a 180 square foot space. Cheaper options, like Google Cardboard, may only cost a few dollars, but they are more for being a spectator. Ethan’s Vive headset lets you move all around, pick up virtual objects, and create new ones. Artists are already using the equipment in design, something Ethan has done as well.

And, of course, there are the games. Games have always been a good introduction to new technology because they are an easy entry point, making the unknown approachable, making learning fun to the point that you don’t even realize you’re learning.

At the rate things are changing, go experience VR, not just for the fun of it but to better understand something that will be mainstream within the next two years. Finally, a good use for that extra empty room, your personal holodeck.

Tom Trimbath is a guest author for Whidbey Telecom. A “fan of the quiet island life,” Tom is a Real Estate Broker (Coldwell Banker Tara Properties), Consultant, Writer, Speaker, Teacher, Photographer, Engineer, Entrepreneur, and all-around Renaissance man.