Back in 2014, Google invested $542 million in a secretive and mysterious augmented reality glasses start-up known as Magic Leap, but it wasn’t until last week that we got our first glimpse of what we can expect from the project when a video called ‘Just another day in the office of Magic Leap‘, appeared on their YouTube channel.
It would appear that the race to bring a touch of virtual reality to our world is picking up pace as Facebook, Samsung and Sony also make advances in this area. As a user you will probably fall into one of two camps that consist of “wow this is the future” or “Not another pointless gimmick, didn’t we learn anything from 3D TV’s?”
If resistance really is futile and we are all heading for a future where we plug ourselves into the matrix, let’s take a look at what the Oculus Rift rival brings to the table.
Although you cannot deny how visually impressive this fusion of a digital and physical world are, it doesn’t take long until you are left thinking that this is yet another case of style over substance that when stripped back doesn’t actually offer us anything new, other than leaving you stood in your living room with giant ski goggles waving your arms around blissfully unaware that the joke could be on you.
Despite being having a strong passion for technology, my issue with virtual reality is that we are strapping all of this equipment to our eyes wanting to be blown away by this alternate universe, but the actual reality is by simply putting on a backpack and going for a long walk, you will discover so much more about yourself and the world around you than strapping a headset will ever teach you, which leaves me thinking that somewhere along the line we may have lost our way.
If all I wanted to do was blast aliens to smithereens with a virtual headset, I could revert back to my Tomy Tronic 3-D game from 1983, so forgive me wanting a little bit more than yet another shooter or holding a virtual baby elephant in my hands in 2015.
Repeatedly saying “Ok Google” or “Alexa, Will it rain tomorrow” is not actually saving us a great deal of time or effort and equally shooting robots in my living room is not going to save mankind or is this just another distraction that stop us from thinking about more serious issues? This is my problem, why is this technology not focussing on fixing the big problems instead of looking for solutions to issues that don’t actually exist?
If we can learn anything from Microsoft and their dumping of Kinect it’s that standing in your home plugged into tech desperately trying to prove to your guests and indeed yourself that waving your hands around in the air is more efficient than simply pushing a button is ultimately a fruitless exercise.
Although I can say with pride that I recently climbed the Wall Of Westeros with An Oculus Rift and have to admit it was quite cool, the world around us and our own eyes equally amaze me each and every day and this is something I don’t want us to lose sight of.
I want technology to amaze me and make our lives easier, I’m just not convinced that headsets and augmented reality offers us any solutions other than isolating us from the world instead of uniting us all.
In the words of John Lennon, You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.
What are your thoughts on the rise of virtual reality? Excited, cautiously optimistic or nothing to see move on?