A few years ago, Google glass was the next big thing. Headsets were selling to a select group of developers for well over £1000 a piece.
Cluego had a long hard look at Glass as we wondered if it would be suitable for our events.
But then development ceased, the beta was closed. Headsets were withdrawn from sale.
Glass 2 is in development but it’s likely to be more for business use than aimed at the general public.
Two reasons stood out for why it wasn’t an instant hit
- People didn’t know if they were being recorded when talking to Glass wearers so privacy was a huge issue.
- Dork Factor. Remember those guys walking around Tesco with a Bluetooth earpiece hanging off their head, yes? 10 X that.
The pictures that were released from the World Mobile Congress Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg filled a room full of VR headsets wearing press and developers frankly filled me with dread.
Dork Factor or Cool Factor?
Yes I can see it having some really useful applications, engineers, Cad designers, surgeons, in fact anything where virtual practice will either save lives or Millions of Dollars is great.
But can you see yourself sitting in a virtual cinema watching MAD MAX 4 while your significant other is watching Downtown Abbey? I can’t.
I can see my son plugged into his VR Headset playing Elder Scrolls for hours on end in a darkened room talking to “his friend” who is 45 years old. But is that really a good thing?
I can see him withdrawing from all forms of human contact.
I don’t doubt how powerful the experience will be, I’m sure that standing in a 360 degree desert stood next to Mad Max while the world explodes around me will be mind blowing, but what of the me on the outside?
Where’s it all going?
Are we all destined to wast away our lives becoming more and more connected to display screens?
Immersive sensation suits are on their way, soon not only will be see that virtual world but we will be able to feel it too.
Sci Fi writers have seen this coming for a while. Matrix being the most obvious but films like Surrogates giving us a taste of what real horror awaits.
VR Headsets are nothing new. I remember using one in an amusement arcade in the very early 1990’s it was bulky, dorky, not great resolution and poorly utilised.
I’ve no doubt that technology has the ability to deliver us a very impressive alternate world but will you really put on a headset so you can visit a virtual car showroom?
A closing thought
For over 50 years entertainment technology has been driven by the pornography industry, Porn has been the making of 8mm film, VHS over Beta, DVD, Blu Ray over HD DVD, and pretty much 30% of all the internet.
Now I’m sure there will be some die hard users that will invest in VR and Suits to get their thrills, but it’ll take a brave man to isolate themselves from the outside world for a few minutes alone with Mia Khalifa.
Anyone who knows the joke about the teenager and the steaming cup of tea will know what I’m talking about.
So will we all be using VR headsets in 10 years time? Well yes, probably, but mainly at work. Whether we have them in our homes for our own entertainment is a very different matter.