Sunday, February 28, 2021

VR time travel

If you haven't seen it yet, AVI has an interesting post on leveraging VR for "travel". We already have snippets of VR travel for viewing undersea life, and for fantasy worlds--such as the Universal Studios Harry Potter rides.

If you could generate the detail (and the resolution--what I've seen hasn't been very crisp!) for a walkabout of several blocks in Paris or Pompeii, and associate that with some live-action interaction at a cafe or thermopolium you might have a very attractive alternative to trying to build your own time machine.

As AVI notes, it could serve as an alternative to actual travel for those with small budgets and not a great deal of time. You could take a trip to San Francisco without having to dodge needles and feces, or visit the pyramids without wondering if your tour bus is going to get shot up.

Typically you'd want to spend a lot more than a few hours to explore odd corners of a foreign city, whatever strikes your fancy, so this wouldn't be more than a taste of a place.

The physical infrastructure would be very expensive (a city block's worth of space? Unless everybody is seated in their own little booth and never walk anywhere...), and each environment would be complicated and expensive to produce, but only the individual's hardware would wear out quickly. The cafes and other vendors would have to be cycled in and out with each new environment too, but that's easily designed for.

I can see possible issues with authentic environments--slaves, crippled beggars, different ideas about modesty and so on, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with using either slightly varied VR environments or a rating system.

I've never been to Universal Studios (some family have). It might be something up their alley.

As a proof of principle, how about a VR tour of a museum? Start with a single room, and let people get as close to the Mona Lisa as they like. The online stuff that I've seen doesn't let you see fine detail--certainly not in binocular vision. It's nice to know what's in the Vatican Museum, but I can't really see it well.


Korora said...

There is also a risk of Ministry of Truth issues...

Eric said...

The Hololens V1 had a really cool virtual tour of Rome.

That being said, however, VR still hasn't solved the nausea problem, particularly when virtually moving without physically moving. Abrupt jumps (aka teleporting) work OK; smooth movements are almost guaranteed to cause severe nausea.