Like most technology nerds out there, I really want virtual reality to be great. The idea of experiencing an alternate world the way someone else designed it, and being able to look around and interact with objects they same way we would in real life is fascinating. However, like any new element of technology, virtual reality has its fair share of scrutiny and uncertainty surrounding its user functionality.
As I commonly do in these blogs, I like to compare the filmmaking world and the video game world quite frequently, because I believe they offer a lot of similarities and offer insight into the future of each other. Virtual reality already exists in common video game practice, with film slightly lagging behind.
The reason? The technology isn’t quite strong enough for film yet. Video games can get away with offering pixelated; choppy games because they’re video games, and player expectations are generally lower. But when it comes to film, pixelated quality isn’t going to cut it, which brings me to the cause of the first obstacle for virtual reality.
Motion sickness caused from pixelated/off margin graphics
If you’ve ever tried out the Oculus Rift or Samsung VR (among many other systems), you’ll know that getting motion sickness is a real possibility after about 10 minutes of play time, with many users (including myself) experiencing it long before that. In my eyes, this is one of, if not the biggest obstacle facing virtual reality today. If it can’t be solved, this technology is going nowhere. I for one will not spend a dime on something that makes me sick (yes, I have a very low tolerance for theme parks and roller coasters) and I wouldn’t be surprised if others felt the same way. Whether you’re just watching a movie or interacting with an environment, you don’t want to come out of it feeling like you want to chuck.
Motion sickness is actually caused by the pixelated graphics that exist within VR. I’m no scientist, but this article describes it perfectly. In a nutshell, it has to do with the amount of movement your eyes see when you move your head in virtual reality. If the movement your eyes experience is too much for what they’re used to, you’re going to get sick.
This brings me to the second obstacle, which is a serious topic all on its own:
You can’t see anything around you
Well duh… If you’ve ever played any of the video game virtual reality systems, you’ve probably almost always been in the room with another person.
Notice the key word I mentioned in that sentence?
It’s not “another person”.
Yes, that’s right, you’re more than likely playing one of these games in a room. You know, one of those things with four walls, which differ drastically in size? Yeah, they’re kind of a problem for someone walking around flailing their arms and trying to interact with the environment around them. There is a serious safety aspect here that can’t be overlooked
It is almost an absolute must to have someone around spotting you while you walk around, because, well, you can’t see where you’re going or what expensive object you’re going to run into. The last thing you need is to throw on one of these headsets and accidentally walk through a doorway and fall down a flight of stairs.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but I will never doubt the possibility of a serious accident when it comes to technology. I’m having nightmares of the Wii remote/arm strap vs. TV fiasco all over again…
All in all, virtual reality has taken ginormous steps leading to a revolutionary change in the industry, but there is still a long way to go. If experts are able to solve these two major obstacles, I think for future for virtual reality is brighter than even we can see in this all-too-real world.