Want to go to a live show but don’t have time? Want to experience life in Syria but don’t have the means to travel there? Want to see what’s really happened during World War II but don’t have a time machine? That doesn’t matter! Let’s dream a daydream with virtual reality (VR), as VR is reshaping the world we can see.
I still remember the moment I was first introduced to VR. Exhausted after a whole day design class, a girl wearing a black goggles immediately caught my attention. She waved her arms in the air, walking around and exclaiming, “a rainbow!” Finally, I was told that she was wearing VR goggles, and I’ve been mesmerized ever since..
I had a chance to experience more in Virtual Reality Storytelling with Professor Dan Pacheco, and learned how powerful the medium can be. But what exactly is it? According to Wikipedia, VR typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment and simulate a user’s physical presence in this environment.
Generally speaking, VR is excellent at uniting an idea with an emotion, which is one of the most powerful storytelling techniques. Wearing a VR headset to experience a bombed city in Syria was thought-provoking. I was able to be on the streets of Syria, physically safe yet mentally suffering. Closely approaching the rusty iron fence, I felt nausea, as the bombed scene, moving speed and the fear of being trapped triggered strong emotions.
The most compelling part of VR is empathy. It makes everywhere feels local, just like an empathy machine. With the VR gear, you are literally standing in other’s shoes to see the world. You may encounter a refugee in VR news, watching her terror and listening to her story. She just stands right in front of you, at such a close distance that you usually reserve for your loved ones.
VR is also seeking to satisfy your curiosity and make a difference in your life. You can get up close and personal with grizzly bears via Discovery VR. You can experience the thrill of skydiving even with a fear of heights. You can also visit a haunted castle without leaving Newhouse. Basically, you can dream a daydream with VR.
More importantly, VR has the potential to bridge cultural gaps by providing direct sensory experiences with people from various backgrounds. Instead of passive consumption, VR allows us to feel like a part of something via interactive experiences. That makes the 360-whole-view experience even more engaging and powerful.
Newhouse is a pioneer is this field, offering various VR-related classes, so don’t miss the chance to dream a daydream right here in Syracuse.