If you hear a sound to your right in the virtual world, for example, you just turn to your right. Oculus VRhas experimented with virtual reality in its offices. Many projects focus on representing multiple people in the same virtual reality space, whether via video game or virtual meeting room.
Virtual reality holds the potential for immense power, the ability to impact — or even manipulate — people’s experiences for days or years after they remove their headsets. As VR simulations become more immersive than ever, these emotional moments will feel more and more like the human perception of memories, like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. It’s a responsibility some creators aren’t taking lightly: They’ll have the power to create something far more real than our dreams, or nightmares.
Most of today’s experiments are created by hobbyists and truly passionate users. De la Pena and her brother built the VR headset for Use of Force in his garage. But Facebook’s $2 billion Oculus Rift purchase marked a new virtual reality mainstream.
De la Pena is acutely aware of the power of virtual reality. Since 2012, she’s created journalism pieces for events like Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals. For her first piece, Hunger in Los Angeles, de la Pena recreated a food bank line in Los Angeles when the city’s homeless and low-income residents faced food shortages. She centered the experience around a man who fell into a diabetic coma while waiting in one of the lines, an event witnessed and recorded by her team.
De la Pena is one of the first journalists to experiment with VR as a storytelling tool, but others have followed. NPR’s Barbara Allen built a simulation to capture some of the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of New Orleans. During that simulation, participants stood on a rooftop waiting for rescue as the water rose around them.
Mark Bolas wears a prototype stereo head-mounted projector developed by MXR Labs in Southern California in 2010. It allows the viewer to view a projected image in 3D. Bolas is director of the MXR Labs at the Institute of Creative Technologies and associate professor at the School of Cinematic Arts at USC. Read more…