Jason Prini

Virtual Reality

I recently got a chance to experience virtual reality (VR) with a HTC VIVE head mounted display (HMD). I was so enraptured by the experience that I immediately began learning everything I could about the current VR state of tech, production & design workflows, best practices, and even academic papers & lectures. It may sound like hyperbole, but it’s really going to change everything.

There have been other times in my tech life that I felt like I did inside VR;

  • using HyperCard on a Macintosh SE/30,
  • clicking through blue hyperlinks on the first web pages in a Mosiac browser,
  • using the then-new layers features in Photoshop 3.0, and
  • using the first multitouch iPhone in 2007.

All of these experiences gave me a profound sense of “OMG This is going to be HUGE” feeling that pushed me deeper into my technology career. Virtual reality seems like it might be the next step. It’s hard to articulate exactly why I feel so sure about VR playing a big part in the next epoch of computing. The concept of  “Presence” is a big part of it though.

But it’s still early. Just as no one could have imagined current Amazon emerging from those first primitive blue-hyperlinked grey-background web pages, it’s difficult to articulate how mainstream VR will unfold. We are one to two magnitudes increase in performance-per-watt away from VR going from niche to billions of users. But as anyone who understands Moore’s Law knows, a 2016 VR-capable GPU running on <1W of power is probably much less than 10 years away. We are at a tipping point now for establishing the VR-foundation that the future will be build upon.

I don’t yet have my own HMD, or even a mobile capable smartphone, but I am teaching myself Blender. While the software is not exactly the most optimal option – although I’m looking to try the Maya student licence – I’ve already grown accustomed to navigating and directing my creative energy within a 3D work space, and that I think is the a good place to start.

Blender Cycles render of a 3D orange I modeled and dropped into a simulated water tank.

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