A Sit on the Wild Side

Virtual reality (VR) becoming more of a mainstream reality just in time for the holidays


Graphic from www.vrheadsets3d.com

Jacob Trock, Staff Writer

I am in Japan. I am walking through malls and fish markets and festivals, Suddenly, I push a button and I am in Minecraft, on a roller coaster. And then I take the headset off, and I’m back in Westport.

The device I am talking about, the Oculus Rift, is a virtual realism device made by the Oculus corporation, which has gotten a lot of hype for being the most realistic virtual reality device out there. Believe the hype. My walk in Japan was all too realistic. I turned my head and my view turned too. I could touch stuff, but not feel it, and it all seemed so real, until my body started to realize that I couldn’t see my hands and arms. But after a minute or two, I got used to it. I was buying fish in Japan at a nighttime fish market, lit by strings of little light bulbs, and would have gotten away with it too, but my time was up and had to pass my beloved plaything onto the next user.

But be warned, not everything on the Oculus is what it seems to be. I was waiting in line to use it, and I was determined to play the roller coaster game, where you go through a house covered in little trails of

Believe the hype”

tracks. I thought It would be just like watching a video on my computer monitor.

I thought wrong.

After seeing the that user’s reaction–screaming and shaking nervously on the roller coaster–I decided just to stick with an emulation of Japan. Eventually, I decided to play the Minecraft roller coaster, where you fly through a village on train tracks, and it wasn’t so bad.

Oculus was created by a virtual reality fanatic named Palmer Luckey, who was born in Long beach, Calif., and was later bought by the social media giant Facebook. This device will be released for buyers before Christmas, just in time for thousands of Black Friday buyers to get their hands on one for about $1000.

Google cardboard
Google Cardboard VR. (Requires phone)

But the Oculus isn’t all the hype. A new device from Google is cheaper, costing a meager $34, and does not require a parent computer to use it. This device is called the Google Cardboard and was handed out at the Google computing convention to all of the people in the audience. This device is available from third-party retailers, or can be printed and cut out of cardboard for free, and at the heart of this little cardboard thing is your smartphone.

Samsung VR for $100 to $200. graphic from www.forbes.com
Samsung VR for $100 to $200. graphic from www.forbes.com
Graphic from www.telegraph.uk.com
Hololens from Microsoft. Graphic from www.telegraph.uk.com

Even Microsoft and Samsung are getting in on it. Samsung has just released the Samsung Gear VR in a partnership with Oculus and is now available at Best Buy. Microsoft’s Hololens VR headset the hololens hopes to expand VR to the office and medical background.

All in all, This great new technology can revolutionize many new fields and create new jobs, who knows, maybe in 20 years there will be VR travel agents.