Why didn’t coronapanic and shutdown push virtual reality over the hump?

In Virtual reality and augmented reality: the technologies of the future (March 2019) I asked

Is it fair to say that “VR/AR is the technology of the future, and always will be”?

The future arrived in March 2020, with governments around the world making it illegal to interact face to face, illegal to travel, etc. If VR were ever going to catch on, shouldn’t coronapanic and associated lockdowns have been the catalyst?

If there were complete VR experiences at most of the world’s art museums, I would buy a VR headset right now, but museum web sites don’t seem to offer more than conventional image galleries. Maybe there are a handful of museum experiences available, but certainly it is not like the freedom that we had in the physical world when the physical world (beyond South Dakota and Sweden) included freedom.

VR could also be great for mass (virtual) gatherings. Wander around in VR and form small conversation groups (but maybe this wouldn’t be as good as Zoom because you’d have to interact with avatars unless you wanted to see pictures of people with VR goggles attached to their heads.

Who has tried the Oculus Quest 2? One of my cousins loves this, but maybe that is because he has been locked into his house with wife and two (mostly grown) children (i.e., perhaps coronapanic did push him into the VR fold). No cumbersome cables (and therefore limited to two hours of battery-based usage). No need to configure a PC. No privacy issues because it is tied to Facebook, which already knows everything about you.


5 thoughts on “Why didn’t coronapanic and shutdown push virtual reality over the hump?

  1. Our family got an Oculus Quest 2 for Christmas. We enjoy it. Top apps (for us) are boxing, rush (wing suits), the climb (rock climbing), mini-golf, space pirate trainer (old arcade style shooter), and beat saber of course. Video has a long way to go. 8K is best for 360 video but quality and availability is limited still and as a friend says you really need higher res for good 360 video. I played with Wander a bit the other day. Only $10 and it basically loads google street view into 360 which is sort of fun to explore. For the money well worth it but the kids (even up to 16 and 17yr olds) still enjoy good old minecraft on laptops and we otherwise are not “gamers”. I think the new release of Myst might be next for me in VR. We are able to play most of these games without an internet connection (rural).

  2. I spent several years working on a project related to VR and these are the chief impediments I see:

    1) No matter how light the rig may be, it is uncomfortable to have a rig strapped to your head for more than 10 minutes.

    2) It is unnerving at a lizard-brain level to be shut off from your actual perception of where you are and what is around you. (Probably also a reason that VR porn has not really taken off.)

    3) For the most part, it will not be possible to move within a VR world consistent with the illusion of VR (e.g., to cross a room, you are going to have to press a button rather than simply walk in that direction, etc.).

    All the technical improvement in the world, both in the sense of upgrading video resolution and fixing biomechanics (a/k/a avoiding nausea), is not going to solve those problems.

  3. Still have an $8 phone holder from Walmart, back in the day. They’re collectibles now, just like google glass. AI had a similar run in 1999 after VR had a similar run in 1992. It seems every startup cycle goes from a VR boom to an AI boom.

  4. Why aren’t the companies making cheap at-home realistic VR simulators for flight training? Seems like an obvious market.

    • lion2, AI in ML shape and form is now pretty much is a part of corporate IT world. Image processing using convoluted networks is a daily staple of life for billions, whether they like it or not. 2018 Turing Award was for AI – not the first for AI. Turing Award is given for well-established achievements, after they proved itself in real life.

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