I work for a company that makes video games for impact for PC, mobile, VR, and AR. A core part of our business is to make digital experiences on a contract basis for companies and organizations all over the world. Recently, we got to work with Publications International to create 6 different VR experiences to accompany 6 books developed by Encyclopedia Britannica. The books covered various topics such as Space, Animals, Dinosaurs, Landmarks, Oceans, and Explorations. A custom cardboard viewer was included in the box set and suddenly we were a part of a new product for the holiday season available online and at CostCo stores nationwide.
Thanks to this project, my holiday shopping was a cinch. Every child in my life got this set for the holidays, including my 10-year old daughter pictured below. She was already excited to have one of the biggest and heaviest presents under the tree (books are heavy!) but she was astonished to have received her own virtual reality headset, something she had only experienced once before when she got to check out the virtual reality viewer they have at her school’s library.
My 78 year old dad in space (virtually, of course!)
To say this was the hit of our family’s Christmas would be an understatement. I couldn’t download those apps quickly enough for everyone’s liking but soon enough everyone got a chance to peek into that magical cardboard to have their very first virtual reality experience.
As I watched members of my family young and old in VR, I realized that I witnessed something very different with this tech than I have with other tech in our family like computers, consoles, or tablets. Everyone was into it. And that got me thinking. Could virtual reality be the tech to bridge generations? Here’s why I think this may be the case:
1. Everyone gets it. Step 1 - Lift up viewer to eyes. Step 2 - You are in virtual reality. In the case of this collection, there are no complicated buttons to press, no keyboard skills needed, no mouse to control. Virtual reality is so natural that the biggest tech neophyte can feel like a pro right away. And that feels good to everybody.
2. It moves people. Is it the full immersion? Is it the scale of the places you can inhabit? There is something about virtual reality that makes people feel unlike other tech medias. I can see a giraffe on a television set or a computer monitor and think intellectually “what a beautiful creature” but when I see a giraffe in virtual reality I feel the weight, height, breath and the soul of the giraffe. Emotions are something we all feel and relatable to people of all ages.
3. It’s a common experience. I am painfully aware how technology can actually make generations feel isolated from each other. If your grandma isn’t a gamer, it’s unlikely she’ll be able to pick up your xbox controller and play along when she visits, nor will she be enthralled by the fast-paced action. But your grandma can have an awesome experience in VR where she moves at her own pace and visits the world you like to inhabit. Suddenly, technology is a place where she can have a common experience with you and, in the end, feel closer to you.
I’m looking forward to seeing how VR starts to shape our lives more and more as well as our relationships. Have you shared VR with your friends and family? How did it go? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter!