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.
App Review: Vrse
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.
Viewer Review: dscvr Cardboard
My brother got this birthday present that he couldn't figure out so I decided I would tinker with it. I've worked in tech in the past in non-technical positions but anyone not in tech in SV will assume that you are great with computers or anything related, and throw hardware problems with you as if you're a doctor and they handed you a stethoscope, with eyes that say, "do something, fix it now."
This present was Cardboard, as pictured above. (www.imcardboard.com). As you can see from the photos, the packaging is pretty, but not friendly to anyone that isn't familiar with VR. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person and had some challenges figuring it out, so did my brother, who was better in school, so even better at following instructions than me.
First Impressions: Looks
Initial impressions: wtf is this? Looks super cool, but wtf is this? I must investigate.
Let's analyze the instructions:
There are three basic steps. Super easy to follow because they are physical actions with the headset. The only instruction beyond that is to Scan your QR Code. There's a QR code on the side. I was like, ok, I will download a QR reader. Downloaded.
I try to scan it. It comes up blank. Hmmm what now? I'll go to the website.
Website tries to sell me more stuff. No salvation of any kind. Proceed to inspect packaging further, thinking, this shouldn't be that hard!
There's a symbol on the back that says "Compatible with Google Cardboard." I thought to myself, ok, so it works with it, but that doesn't mean I need it right? Whatever, I'll just download it anyway. So I downloaded Google Cardboard App from the iOs App Store, insert the phone in the headset as instructed, and was on my way to the awesome demo that Google put together.
What the Real Instructions Should Have Read:
How to Use the DSCVR Cardboard:
Step 1: Download Google Cardboard or any of the VR Apps listed on our Website (list some apps on the homepage of your site)
Step 2-4: Current steps 1-3 on the box
Step 5: Hold up the viewfinder and make sure the images are in focus. Enjoy!
Experience: How Was It?
It was amazing. I felt like I saw a new color. I felt like I saw the future. I felt like I was in the Matrix. I felt like I was 9 and it was 1997 and I was running out of websites to go to but wanted to go to more.
That's what started the love. I truly believe VR and AR are the future.
The demo was simple, you can choose from a tutorial, explorer, exhibit, urban hike, kaleidoscope, and arctic journey. The best way I can describe it is that you hold up these glasses and look around and everything is exactly as it would appear as if you were there.
Let's say we took an Urban Hike in Paris. Look to your left, some guard rails and tourists. Look up, it's the Effiel Tower, look to your right, trees, pavement and a walking path. Look behind you? Some people cuddling on a blanket (not really, but if they wanted to make it more real, then yes).
Or what if we were in the Artic? A bird pops up. You wanna know more about the bird. Why wonder when you can find out?! Move your eyesight next to the bird, press the button on the googles and violia! Instant info.
The point is, all the things we yearn for, to discover, to be, to learn, to experience, to feel, etc etc are possible. It's early. The graphics are okay.
But the point is, in the future, we don't have to wait. The future is now. Time is the only thing we can't get back; make the most of it.
Possible / Actual Cons: Kind of a pain to hold up, but you shouldn't be on there for long, which btw, I was informed after I was using it long enough to get a headache, that you're NOT SUPPOSED TO USE IT MORE THAN 15 MINUTES. Yes, that key info was also omitted from the packaging.
Investment: The price is right. I saw it's 2 USD to 30 USD! Can get up and running in minutes.
Yes, it's a nice entry level headset that got my interest piqued! Would happily give it to friend to try out.
VR & AR are for everyone.