I had the opportunity to go to VRLA (Virtual Reality Los Angeles) today in downtown LA. It wasn’t the biggest convention I’ve ever been to, though they touted is is the biggest Virtual Augmented Reality expo in the world. Most of the big Virtual Reality (VR) brands were there like Oculus Rift, Radeon, and Hololens.
But of course, much of the expo focused on the content – including what’s already available to view or the tools needed to product VR videos. We saw a lot of VR games being played at the E3 video game conference this year. All of them geared towards combat of some sort.
As we mentioned in our article on E3, VR is coming to your home via PlayStation and now through Xbox too. But the age minimum on these games is suggested at 12 years and older.
Is VR Safe for Children?
Because of the newness of VR, there have been no tests done to ensure VR isn’t harming kids. But what is known is that kids eyes are still developing and spending time with VR googles could harm this process, so most VR headset manufacturers warn that kids under 12 should not play with VR.
Most experts can’t point to evidence that VR harms children, but recommend children wait until their teens to use VR.
Does Virtual Reality Cause Nauseousness?
Earlier in the year, we wrote our article about TOMS Shoes and how they used VR to show a Tom’s customer giving a child a pair of donated shoes in Brazil.
Using a Google cardboard VR headset with my Samsung Note 5 tucked inside, my son and I watched the Tom’s video in VR. It was fascinating, but both of us felt a bit nauseous afterwards.
Apparently, feeling nauseous while using VR isn’t uncommon. Our brain is interpreting stimuli and moving in one direction while our body is doing something different. Many times in VR, what we see and what our actions are don’t add up.
This can cause you to be nauseous. Some people are more susceptible to it than others. Young children up to age 12 are more likely to get nauseous than 20 year-old’s.
Although nauseousness doesn’t occur with everyone, it’s important to know if a VR system will cause sickness in your family BEFORE you pay money for the equipment.
Using VR in small doses is doable, but I would question your teen if s/he spends a lot of time playing PlayStation VR or even using cardboard VR googles watching YouTube 360 videos. The general rule, “everything in moderation” certainly applies with VR as well.
Interesting Uses of VR
Virtual Reality is becoming a reality for combat-based games making their way into homes. Expect to see a lot of new VR console games introduced in the coming months before Christmas. We saw most of them at E3 this year.
Other interesting uses include:
- travel to places of wonder all around the world
- see college campuses without leaving home
- soldier training – getting soldiers for combat or familiar with enemy terrain
- see the stars and planets with interstellar travel
- go back in time too see Pompeii, the Roman Empire, and other historical events
- learning – how to do certain things like surgery, detonating bombs, scuba diving, and more
While at VRLA, we ran across two companies who are doing very innovative things with VR.
The first is SilVR Thread. They have created their SilvVR Thread hardware and software to replicate natural human vision, creating a more connected human experience that can cause a stronger emotional and physical reaction.
SilVR calls this experience, POV, or Point of View. Unlike other VR experiences, SilVR offers a more complete experience by allowing the body of the camera person being a part of the video.
For example, I tried out SilVR Thread’s skiing VR video, using VR googles and headphones. It looked like any other VR video I’ve seen. I was skiing downhill. But then I looked down at my feet and there were skiis on them. When I looked at my hands I could see ski poles. Normally, you don’t see a body on yourself when you look down at yourself in VR films.
Watching VR in this way allows you to actually feel that you are “walking” or “skiing” in another’s shoes. It’s fascinating.
This becomes particularly interesting in the ways SilVR Thread is using this unique POV technology. They created a VR POV video in which children in a room were gathered together.
A few of the kids began bullying one of the kids in the room. SilVR Thread allowed 200 children to watch this video using VR googles. In the video, the VR child viewer watched the video as one of these children, but not the child being bullied and not a bullier, just an observer.
Afterwards, SilVR Thread surveyed the children. They found that 93% believed that if the situation was real, they would have intervened in some way.
The beauty of this experience is that children had the opportunity to feel apart of a common occurrence in today’s schools by being in someone’s else’s shoes and understood the emotions behind the experience more clearly.
I was surprised to see PeTA at the VR conference. PeTA, as in People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They were introducing VR showgoers to their video, “I, Chicken.” Putting on VR googles and watching this video immerses you into the experience of being a chicken among your flock, enjoying complete freedom.
As you linger along a green valley and crystal blue waters, you begin to follow your chicken friend. Soon there are a number of men who begin scooping you and your friends to lock you up. You travel in cages to a meat packing plant. You feel the fear as you and your fellow chickens crowd together.
PeTA’s message? Stop the cruelty of chickens by realizing they sense what’s going on around them and our chicken-eating habits are causing over 1 million chickens to be slaughtered HOURLY each day.
By “feeling” chickenhood, PeTA hopes you’ll turn from your meat-eating tendencies and embrace a vegan lifestyle. Certainly a clever way to help people get into a chicken’s claws to empathize with her.
Virtual Reality brings an incredible opportunity to dive deeper into experiences and point of views, not possible before. The travel VR videos I have seen are truly incredible. You can look down to see the ground, turn around and see all around you, and even look up into the blue sky.
Perhaps you have a fear of flying. No worries, there are tons of VR videos out there filmed in large cities so you can see it “firsthand.” SilVR Thread takes VR to the next level to make experiences more relevant and personal.
VR companies are already working on accompanying structures to add air, heat, music, etc. to make the experience more realistic.
Expect to see a lot more innovation in VR as well as more places to experience it…like in museums, schools, and even amusement parks.
Oh, and interestingly enough, Reliefband, a cool device we reviewed last month to help with nausea and morning sickness, could possibly help you with VR nauseousness. We read about how it has been used to help people play VR games.
Interesting in learning more about Virtual Reality? See DaddyDaydream’s Family Guide to VR for a nice overview of VR and the equipment you’ll need.