Today I suffered my (hopefully last, probably not), VR related injury. It happened at a retail store on 60th and Madison Ave, New York, which upon Googling, appears to be Tods, though in Youvisit is a high end retailer.
I may form a bruise on my arm because I bumped into a wall attempting to get closer to some watches. It was frustrating; I would physically move forward and nothing would happen, I instinctively would reach out and touch, with no gratification. Most importantly, I wanted to do these things because I wanted to buy.
I was skeptical of the application of VR for retail, thinking it should be used for more productive purposes, but after seeing the vivid scenes of the store, take that thought back completely. Though the experience was missing things- ability to touch, sounds of the store, a friendly person to assist you, and even that department store smell (maybe in the future there will be scent cartridges, like ink, that you can insert into the viewer!), I can see how this can be so powerful and possibly addicting. I'm not much for gaming, but for a woman, sure, I'll fall into the stereotype, I do like to shop and could get addicted to this!
My favorite department store is Nordstroms; I live in the Philippines right now. I miss it there. I used to frequent their stores in Downtown Seattle, Bellevue, and Union Square. What if I could just go there right now? Buy all these things? YES PLEASE! Not sure how they'll get their branded bottled water to me though. Maybe with the help of a 3D printer that's in my fridge, haha.
But I digress, let's review the app:
The navigation is like a spaceship dashboard. Looks pretty cool. You do all the choosing inside the headset already instead of before, like with Vrse.
There are so many different categories to choose from: Real Estate, Travel, Restaurant, Most Popular, Live Events, College, Hotel, Business, Venue, Other (porn? haha just kidding; wonder how they'll age verify that- hey your eyes are the size of a 12 year old, access denied!)
The first one I chose was travel. I went to the Lourve in Paris, which I'd like to say I picked because I've been there, which is true, but in reality I picked it because the cursor was moving too quickly and accidentally ended up there.
The first thing that came out of my mouth was *oly *uck. Really, looking around everything was just like it. Even the prototypical tourists. The sounds were there! But then the app kind of hung. I was having a hard time getting out, but eventually was able to.
I like this app a lot but I think it might be better if it were more focused; same can be said of Vrse. I don't see myself having a burning desire to open the app the way I felt about 2048 or Facebook. Is that what we should aim for with VR? Remains to be seen.
I downloaded Vrse at the recommendation of my friend. He told me it was snippets of random stuff, and that it is.
When you open it, you scroll down and it a series of banners that are like movie posters. The first one I see at the top is called, "The Source" from charity:water. I was in an area without wifi and attempted to stream this because downloading wasn't an option. I discourage this method, at least in a place with conditions like mine. The picture quality was awful and intermittent.
When I'm finally back at wifi, I reopen the app and keep scrolling until something interests me, and finally stop at at NYTVr's "Take Flight" it the cover photo looks creepy enough, with a girl suspended in the air in the classic horror movie garb of a white nightgown. She's contorted into an pseudo Exorcist style position. Naturally I gravitate toward this one. Download.
Wow. You start on the ground of what I think is New York City (the fact I can't tell immediately says a something of both me and the app, I suppose), then slowly but briskly, you start to levitate! It REALLY FEELS as if you are ascending. It's wild.
Within a few seconds you're in space. Creepy factor also ascends to another level, as people start appearing. Celebrities. Stationary. Why aren't they moving? I think to myself. They're just suspended there all around you as you look around.
Then, without warning, in the distance someone comes running toward you and shards of glass fly in your face as if he has broken glass to run toward you. He's not in love with you ladies, I'm not sure what the point is, but it looks cool AF. I'm not sure who put shards of glass on the drawing board, but I got goosebumps because I knew my face should be getting cut up and it wasn't. Lots of conflicting emotions here, as you can see. Pain, wonder, pleasure, awe, fear... it's like really nothing that I know to describe or have an imagination wild enough to make an accurate analogy.
Then all of a sudden, you begin to fall, it's sudden. Then you're on the ground. The End.
Some of the other titles include:
A History of Cuban Dance
The Displaced (NYT)
My Mother's Wing
Virtual Giving Trip brought to you by Toms
Walking New York (NYT Magazine)
As you may deduce from the titles, these are largely videos that will take you to difference places and or experiences. Very serious ones, in fact. They are cool, interesting topics from a educational perspective, not really for getaway entertainment.
Would download it, but not sure how often content will be refreshed for me to keep it on as a stationary app. Content seems to be quality. Nicely curated list of videos.
Update as of 5/11/16- never actually opened it again after this experience. Nothing compelling to bring it back. Deleted the app to free up storage. Nice to try it once.
VR & AR are for everyone.