Virtual reality. It’s already here. VR has always been something I’ve marvelled at in sci-fi movies and TV shows.
For me, VR’s integration into the consumer market has flown under the radar, but after reading the GigantiCo blog on Augmented Reality, I have realised that products are out there and ready to be consumed. Although they may not be exactly how virtual reality is portrayed in movies such as Avatar and Tron, they are taking those leaps towards the future.
However, it seems as if VR and augmented reality have not taken off, perhaps as desired, due to their being ‘ahead of time’. I can liken this to the release of the iPad, which by some (including Molly Wood of CNET) was said to be a product ‘ahead of it’s time’. The technology was there, but the correct application of technology, and the market to consume it, was not. The iPad ended up being a hit, despite it’s lack of features (no camera, multi-tasking, poor graphics). People bought the product but didn’t know how to use it. Not all newspapers were accessible on the iPad, there was no GPS, and web browsing was difficult due to no Flash compatibility. The release of iPad 2, in a sense, opened up the ‘virtual’ to the consumer. GPS and compass features made the iPad much more usable. Although I am comparing the iPad release to VR products, the iPad itself facilitates the ‘virtual’ for consumers. Owners/users are able to step into the iPad for it’s navigation purposes and become part of an “extended mind” (Andy Clark, 1997).
In linking this to media theory, the ‘network society’ we are part of, stimulates the proliferation of technology, but as Guattari said back in 1989
“All existing theoretical bodies of this type share the shortcoming of being closed to the possibility of creative proliferation”
We demand technology at such rapid pace, that innovative products are being released that are simply unusable or undesirable, because of our lack of technical knowledge. If technology was as advanced as we wanted it to be, VR would be a part of our everyday lives. It has the potential to be something we use daily, but it won’t be until the ‘network society’ adapts to the technology, and VR becomes something more than an exciting marvel.
The Apple iPad: It’s just ahead of its time (Wood, M) [http://news.cnet.com/8301-31322_3-10443887-256.html]
Clark, A. 1997. Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Guattari, F. 2000. The Three Ecologies. Trans. I. Pindar and P. Sutton. London: Athlone.