Power of VR Displayed at Vancouver Convention
You’re standing at the site of a shipwreck under the water with manta rays swimming by around you. You turn around toward the bow and then a massive blue whale of about 80 feet holds your gaze.
A mere look at the size of the creature, floating just a few meters away from you is enough to create a huge amount of tension. You can retreat if you’re nervous or move closer to take a closer look.
Moments later, the whale moves away from you and starts swimming in another direction with its huge tail almost slapping against the remains of the ship as it swims past the wreckage. The very thing you are standing on.
The demo comes to an end just after that.
It’s a fact that one has to experience the immersive power of virtual reality in person—that is, firsthand—and most people wanted to get a chance to do that. This is why the event organized by Archiact showcasing the VR technology at the Vancouver Convention was sold out.
Archiact Organizes Convention to Introduce the Power of VR
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Local virtual reality company Archiact Interactive put together the Consumer Virtual Reality convention, which is set to show unexpected array of functions for various virtual reality headsets including the Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive.
Some of the demonstrations offered new things apart from games such as visual ways to learn languages or guided meditation in one of several relaxing simulated locations.
One of the people who tried the guided meditation, George Chan, when he stepped out of the meditation booth, said, “I chose to go to the arctic, it was a freezing field, with voices telling you what you should do—breathing exercises, that kind of thing.”
Also, virtual reality applications for journalism and storytelling were showcased. UBC journalism and VICE News produced a project which took attendees to Chile, which has seen a rise in HIV infections.
HIV positive Chileans were interviewed, and the interviews were recorded with 360-degree cameras, which, when viewed through a VR headset, make for an intensely intimate experience.
A UBC digital media professor, Taylor Owens, said, “You’re brought into conversation with people who have HIV in a very close, personal way, and they tell you an emotional story of this feeling of isolation they feel with the disease,”
Virtual reality is still somewhat a niche technology at the moment with the most expensive headset, but Owen believes it will eventually make it to the mainstream. Two years ago, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion, and polls have made it known that a large numbers of people get at least some of their news through social media.
“Facebook is making a big bet on this virtual world and they’re already the place that most news is consumed, so we should probably start paying attention to that,” Owen added.
The professor, who co-hosted a talk on journalism and VR at the convention, is also currently studying whether a greater sense of empathy is gotten from the medium from news consumers than two-dimensional video or print.
“There’s a huge amount of hype over this stuff,” Owen said. “Some of the hype is grounded in this idea of empathy. Somehow, because you experience looking at a world through the perspective of someone else, you’ll empathize with their situation better. And that may be the case, but we don’t know yet.”