On Memories and Virtual Experience
My parents visited New York a few weeks ago and, naturally, the first thing we did was head to the Iris office and strap on the Vive. We took turns running through demos for about 2 hours, and I think my parents finally understood a) what I’m actually working on and b) how VR really does have potential to take off in 2016. My dad kept saying “WHY ISN’T THIS FAMOUS YET??” or “WHY ISN’T VR HEADLINE NEWS IN ALL THE PAPERS??” etc. He was really blown away. My mom, well, she just freaked out, especially when the star of the show (a whale) enters stage left in theBlu. Apologies in advance for potato quality video:
I was on the phone with them later in the week, and asked what their favorite experience in New York was during their visit. My dad said something along the lines of “beer”, but my mom‘s response was surprising: “I loved standing on the ship and seeing that whale. Also the cooking with robots was so much fun.”
VR is so real.
My mom’s answer was not “the Vive” or “trying out your VR gear;” it was a memory that equated VR experience with real experience. Although this is obvious to VR veterans, it’s worth repeating that this is an amazing feat for the hardware and its content, and it’s one indication that VR is going to have a more significant impact on our memory than other digital mediums (iPad learning apps, I’m looking at you).
I know very little about the neuroscience of VR(please comment if you do), so my read on memory and VR is anecdotal. I have a bad memory — if I go to a movie, I can’t recite lines afterwards and I sure as hell can’t tell you the exact progression of plot points. But with VR I can remember the sequence of levels in SightLine: The Chair, or the character interactions in The Night Cafe. With experiences like Henry coming out of Oculus Story Studio, I think it’s a fair assumption to say that our memories of VR will continue to be more vivid, more present, and our enjoyment of the medium will increase when we retain more of it.
An obvious industry application for virtual memory “enhancement” is education, but selfishly I’m just happy I’ll remember more of the narrative when I’m watching Toy Story 4 in VR.