Birds cry out in the air above you, and you glance up to see their wings stretched out, looking strange plastered against the otherwise empty sky. The wind caught beneath the birds’ wings is now blowing through grass around you, and though you don’t feel it against your skin, you are certain that it’s there. Around you are the scattered remains of a once-glorious city- the lost city of Machu Picchu. People- some locals, others tourists, pass by, pointing at the ruins with the same wonder as you. It’s hard to imagine that you’ve come all this way- all the way out to Machu Picchu…. and that’s largely due to the fact that, in reality, you haven’t left your home at all.
Imagine a new mode of living- one in which you could see and experience the world like never before. Instead of spending money on luxurious trips, you could view world wonders from your living room, completely immersed in the experience so that you feel as though you’ve really left your home.
I had the opportunity to experience this when I visited home last month. My brother greeted me with his latest “toy”- a virtual reality setup called Windows Mixed Reality that came with his new computer. Having heard a little about vr games, I was eager to try it out for myself. Instead of playing the latest horror game, however, I opted to do a tour of Machu Picchu. To my amazement, it wasn’t long before I began to feel as though I was actually there, exploring the ruins and looking around at the surrounding mountain. At times, it felt as though I could reach out and talk to the “tourists”, who were really recorded passersby that had long since left, set to repeat their motions from time to time.
To some, this may seem like a world right out of a sci-fi book. Indeed, it can be hard to imagine such capabilities, especially considering the very first tv was invented less than 100 years ago. However, with today’s technology, devices such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR are allowing more and more people to experience the outside world from inside their homes.
According to an article on virtual reality, the possibilities and uses of virtual reality include things such as sports, entertainment, and medicine. Defined as a three-dimensional, computer generated environment, virtual reality allows people to do all sorts of things, such as allowing trainee surgeons and firefighters to put themselves in high-risk situations in order to practice without getting hurt or making a fatal mistake.
Some speculate that virtual reality will eventually be overtaken by augmented reality, however. Citing things such as accessibility and fashion for the “downfall” of virtual reality, many are looking forward to a smaller, wireless technology, such as that displayed in Pokemon Go, a highly popular app that shocked much of the world with its augmented reality features. For that reason, there are predictions that the road for virtual and augmented reality will lead to mobile devices.
Either way, I can safely say that I look forward to the day when I can re-visit Machu Picchu from my home- only next time, I hope to feel, smell, and taste as well!