It’s really much closer than we think.
Referencing the previous article on Sword Art Online and the Oculus, I did some digging on my own. I am a longtime Anime fan and watched the entirety of episodes with interest. Here is a bit of what I found.
There are, and have been any number of companies creating their vision and version of Virtual Reality, and what will also translate to a future version of “displays” and virtual interaction. Some of these displays are merely bendable, elastic material (like Acetate) that have the ability to display images in color. Some are actual holography displayed onto air particles, if you can imagine that. And some are tricks with mirrors that solve a complicated problem in a simple way. See a few examples below!
New Ideas in Virtual Reality
Flash based hologram:
3D laser plasma air display
A very basic video of a Haptic feedback data glove
I went to a demonstration of sound once, where three dimensional sound was was demonstrated for us, maybe 20 years ago. Frankly, the setup looked very large and pricey at the time – but it made (and still makes) modern Surround Sound seem like a really bad joke. You could hear everything from just two regular speakers….an airplane high above, a chipmunk far off in the woods, and far below, a subway, with people talking and a train passing. I only wish surround sound was that good, that full, that deep, that ‘real’, detailed and immersive. We closed our eyes, and a man came up to us while talking, chopping with a pair of scissors…and it sounded exactly like our hair was being cut. I opened mine, because I was startled, as the scissors were too close for comfort to my ear – but no one was there. No one at all.
It was exactly like reality. Maybe better.
Currently display-wise, many folks are betting on the Oculus, here’s a Youtube video:
Sony’s HMZ personal 3D viewer is also ‘available’, as this demonstration shows with some tech ideas.
Finally, I present this Oculus smashing website, with contact lenses as a display solution.
Life and Reality
Anyone who has taken the “Star Tours” ride at Disneyland knows that even simple hydraulics can fool one’s mind into many things, at least partially. It is quite convincing for some, less so for others. The fact remains it is just a flat motion image. Hydraulic motion and movements that fool us.
Life and ‘reality’ presents five senses to us to experience life. Fulfillment of that is what we expect to experience in order for the situation to truly “feel real.’ We can be fooled, true, by lessor experiences as the integration of immersion can be achieved by many tricks, including our own desire to be ‘there’. Our own imagination is quite powerful and accepting. All of the videos I have presented above merely need the tech combined in some innovative way in order to have a functional model. Since smell is a very large part of taste sense, it should not be too difficult to create what might amount to a very basic “Nerve Gear” device. It might not be a helmet, we’ll see. I’m guessing this will happen in the next 10 years, as the tech for causing small amounts of pain or pleasure has been around for some time.
And, (as typical tech advances have demonstrated) it is likely that pornography will lead the way. It made the VCR very popular, as well as the internet and other devices. Here is an example, with Haptic tech taking phone sex to an all new level.
To me, this is all beginner tech. ‘The real thing’ will require what might amount to ‘telepathy’ involving the computer, as well as displaying the image and other brain signals into our minds, which has the best graphics engine of all. Directly interfacing into our brain in some manner is basically the solution. This allows for all of the five senses: taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell. To get a stunning interactive experience, that is what would be required. Flying wouldn’t just be something our mind had to make a creative leap to feel immersed in, it would be quite a real feeling to every sensory input we have. And yet, that seems far off, and unlikely for many years. Although, it might help to use a sensory deprivation tank…
Bringing this Back to Sword Art
The promise of feeling someone’s loving touch, or smelling of food and consumption of it within a game are a considerable challenge, as lies within the Sword Art universe. Obviously it is not an impossible one. The videos above demonstrate and prove that the implementation (in some form) is just years away. Now someone needs to create a worthwhile game universe to support the idea, and make it enjoyable. Certainly would be an interesting way to meet people.
Why We Want to Escape
Still…I am reminded of the Avatar movie, and hearing what some people said about it. They found it so stunning, so beautiful, so wonderful. They wanted to go live in it forever. And, I suspect that is the case here, too. Often life is hard, painful, drab and dull, we search for excitement to occupy and interest us. Games and movies are already that way, with unique and interesting worlds that defy that reality which we know and have experienced. I was struck by those words, because they reminded me of my own painful life.
They also reminded me of all of the books I have read, and been absorbed into. Books that enlarged me and my mind, my dreams and hopes, wishes and wants. Books that caused me to have feelings of loss and departure of earth. The books that created a deep desire to go there, and live there. And yet, we always wake up to this world, with all the harsh boredom and suffering that it has and is. In some ways I suspect we are all children. We long for ever more creative places to see, touch and wander in, our child never dies or departs from this. Maybe part of the idea is escape of this painful world, and part is the joy of complete freedom, or the throwing off of all fears of real pain or death.
No matter. I intend to become a space-exploring Cyborg anyway. And with that, I leave you with a HD bit of Hatsune Miku: Which is VR, after all…
And you know, audience members will be mobbing Hatsune Miku to “get a hug” or something. Funny, too. consider.