In a world where technological breakthroughs such as driverless cars and drones are turning yesterday’s fantasy into today’s reality, isn’t actually creating one own’s reality the next logical step?
Well, a whole army of heavy-hitting tech companies are betting big bucks that it is … and that means a new way of experiencing the world could be coming to a Big Lap near you very, very soon. Virtual Reality (VR) is the new holy grail for geeks around the globe.
Facebook-owned Oculus Rift is a market leader in VR technology, and other tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft are also investing heavily. The HTC Vive has just been released to astonishingly positive reviews, and Google this week released its VR paintbrush tool, while hinting at bigger things to come. Virtual Reality uses computer software to give users the impression they are in a completely different ‘real’ environment.
Wearing a special headset, users feel as though they are physically in this new environment and are able to interact with it. Besides giving computer gamers goosebumps of excitement, VR technology’s potential applications include offering people like pilots flight simulations, and the medium is also being touted as having a big future in the entertainment, news, and medical worlds.
Advertisers are also pretty excited and some VR tourism campaigns are already in development. After all, what better way to whet someone’s appetite for a trip out to Mitchell Falls than to let them see what it’s like before they go. But hang on, if this technology is half as good as they say it is, why make the suspension-busting trek out there at all?
With wired gloves already on the VR table, the sensory experiences including sight, touch, hearing, and smell could all soon be taken care of.
While many experts are dismissing the current VR offerings as too expensive (the Vive is $3,000, while the Oculus is $2,000), just think about the fuel you would save by visiting Uluru, the Bungle Bungles and the Flinders Ranges by strapping on one of these devices instead of actually going there!
And you could travel in absolutely any rig you wanted, and even create your own campfire friends who would no doubt laugh at all your jokes and be enthralled by your stories. At the very least the technology should enable dog-owning grey nomads barred from national parks to strap on a headset and take a peek inside the likes of Kakadu or Carnarvon Gorge … and Rover can even come, too.
And those who aren’t confident of their 4WDing skills can fearlessly tackle any sandy track, those with dodgy knees and high blood pressure can still knock off a 20-kilometre bushwalk and, best of all, those who are no longer well enough to travel at all can still feel the warmth of the campfire, see the beauty of the sunset, and virtually live the dream.