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Virtual Reality The experience: replacing your world in a second

Virtual+Reality+The+experience%3A+replacing+your+world+in+a+second

Everything is black. There is little noise, except for the communication going on between the man in the room and myself. As the view in front of me brightens, I start to see what could only be described as a three-dimensional menu, almost like an Xbox dashboard. Everything I look at pops out at me. I start to turn my head to look around, and to my surprise, I am completely surrounded by this visual experience. I tell myself, ‘so this is what virtual reality is like’.

The feeling is indescribable, yet I want nothing more than to describe to you how this experience completely blew my mind.

After exploring the menus for a few minutes, I was instructed on how to use the touch-pad on the side of the Samsung Gear headset, to choose the content I wanted to check out.

The first app I chose was called the Oculus Cinema.

The screen goes black for a few moments and then slowly fades into a virtual representation of a giant movie theater lobby. In the center of the lobby, it gives me a choice of choosing the movie I want to watch and in which theater I want to watch it in. I choose by simply looking at the title of the movie I want and tapping the touchpad on the headset. Once the decision is made, you are transported to an empty movie theater.

Once I took a minute to look around, I had this strong sense of presence. For a moment, I really felt as if I was actually inside a movie theater, waiting for the movie to start, wondering why there was no one watching the movie except me. Of course this feeling fades as you look up and are given the option to play the movie. The best part about the Oculus Cinema app is the ability for the user to upload any movie, or video file for that matter, into the app to experience on the big screen.

After having some fun with the Oculus Cinema, my next journey took me to Iceland, as I soared over the lush scenery in a helicopter in one of the Samsung Gear’s 3D videos. Although there were a few moments I experienced a little bit of dizziness, the beautiful imagery compelled me to continue on.

The sheer magnitude of how big this could be in the tourism industry was beyond anything I ever expected. No longer will people be forced to spend thousands of dollars on expensive trips across the world, just to experience something we should all have the opportunity to experience.

When I was finished messing around with the Samsung Gear, which is the mobile VR headset created by Oculus, I was asked to put on the big boy headset, the Oculus Rift.

Being that this headset was powered by a gaming pc with an $800 graphics card, I was expecting the experience to surpass everything I had just gone through with the Samsung Gear.

The first app I was shown was a space exploration game called Titans of Space.

I look down, and I am in some type of a pod, floating in the middle of the solar system. There are controls and buttons in front of me that light up when I look at them and give me a sense that I am actually in control of where I get to go.

As the game starts, it takes you from planet to planet and shows you a larger-than-life representation of what each of them look like, along with a description of the planet, with fun facts and interesting insights.

This is going to be huge for education and space enthusiasts. Imagine learning about space in virtual environment that allows you to actually see what you are reading about, rather than relying on outdated textbooks and boring lectures.

After conquering space, I was interested in how horror games would be experienced in VR. I was then launched into a horrifying game called Dreadhalls.

I open my eyes to a dark, underground-animated maze, lit only by a lamp that my character is holding. I look down and see a map that only shows where I have been, which at this point, is nowhere. Now being that this game actually requires you to move, I was handed an Xbox controller so that I was able to walk around in this maze. As I started to get the hang of the controls and the disorienting feeling of being able to look around in 360 degrees while controlling the camera at the same time, I started to really get into the experience.

As I walk down the halls trying to find my way out, I start noticing shadows in the distance of random horrifying characters. When you are spotted by one of these characters, the music picks up and pretty much forces you to run away and try to find a way out before you are caught and the game ends.

I must admit, my heart was beating pretty fast in this game. My anxiety usually doesn’t get to me when I play horror games, but something about being virtually “inside” this game, made it that much more realistic and unnerving.

The last experience I had was probably the most immersive one of them all. As part of a marketing ploy for the new upcoming Divergent movie sequel, Insurgent, some VR developers created a 3D VR experience unlike anything I had experienced yet. In Insurgent: Shatter Reality, you become a character in the movie.

When the app started, I opened my eyes to Kate Winslet’s character, speaking to me in a lab, explaining to me about being divergent. As the dialogue continued, I looked down to see my arms and legs, strapped in a chair. This was really crazy to me. It really felt as if I was there, being talked to by these characters. It was awesome. Confusing. Horrifying.

I won’t spoil the experience, but I will say that there was times where my brain actually made me feel some of the physical reactions to what I was going through. This in itself made the Insurgent app the most memorable experience I had.

All in all, my first experience with these new VR headsets won’t be my last. I highly suggest anyone with the time, money and interest, to get your hands on one of these prototype headsets, so that you too, can have your mind blown.

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