On my drive into work today I was listening to NPR – oh, how I love NPR. The TED Radio hour was on and it started off talking about corporate office calls. How journalists can call in via conference calls to corporate stakeholder meetings. This particular meeting was of Mark Zuckerberg explaining to his stakeholders why Facebook just spent 2 billion dollars (that’s right, BILLION!) on Oculus, a virtual reality technology. And Zuckerberg apparently did this in March of 2014, where was I when this happened?
But this is interesting, right? Because what is the next big technology out there? I remember virtual reality (VR) in the 80’s when Disney Imagineers (engineers who make cool rides at Disney) were playing around with this technology.
I think of VR as a video game or a simulation. But for the future, this is a very viable option for how we will live our lives. We are all becoming attached to our phones/computers. Think about it, when you want to know something, you don’t stop and think about it, you immediately look at your phone to find the answer. I walk through the airport and literally 3/4’s of people are on their phones or laptops.
People have this innate necessity to feel connected. People like being connected to each other, which is cool. I, myself, like being connected as well. And that’s why we’re all on our phones and computers. We get into accidents over this, we walk into people on the sidewalk, we totally drown out the actual real world when we’re on our computers. It’s fascinating! And a little disturbing, but this is what we do because we feel connected.
So what does this mean??
So, what does this mean for the world and how we’ll interact with our devices. Well, Mark Zuckerberg thought that our experiences would be much more immersive, much more augmented. Instead of pulling up a companies website on your mobile phone or computer screen, you’ll put on goggles and step into their websites. You’ll be immersed in their experience and be able to interact with it.
If you think about it, this could work. Imagine putting on goggles and being in a classroom of people all over the world listening to the teacher, looking over at the next desk and seeing your classmate, asking them a question. It’s cool!!! Imagine walking through the grocery store in the comfort of your own home and being able to go up and down the aisles, picking up a food product and checking the label to see how much sugar is in it. That’s super cool!!!! Imagine you have some kind of a rash on your arm (not cool!) and instead of getting in your car and going to the doctor’s office, you just pop on your VR goggles (the doctor does the same) and you interact with them in a virtual world. They’d be able to diagnose you without you ever leaving the house and without them ever leaving their office (or where ever they choose to be) – they could be somewhere in Paris or the Bahamas diagnosing people all over the world.
It’s really quite interesting and scary, all at the same time. I feel like people are less connected on a human level, and more connected on a digital one. With this new technology that’s coming down the pipeline, trust me, it’s definitely coming, will we be more connected because we’ll be able to actually see one another face to face? Online people seem to have a disinhibition effect which is partly caused by no face-to-face interaction. Would virtual worlds end that? I mean, you’d have to look at someone, people would see your face. Would people then not do the stuff they’ve done in the past online, I’m not sure, but it’d be interesting to find out!
Whatever comes of this technology I will definitely keep my eyes peeled to the screen (no pun intended).