Virtual reality becomes material, metaphorically



Being able to touch computer generated images by simple hand gestures through the air seems like a far-fetched idea. However, advancing technology holds a plethora of promise for the near future, including a virtual environment where users can create and manipulate the world around themselves as they see fit.

Virtual reality, the dream of a range of people from avid gamers to scientists and engineers, is more tangible than ever. The technology behind today’s virtual reality may not be as advanced as the simulated environments in movies like “The Matrix” and “The Hunger Games,” but it is no longer a remnant of science fiction.

Visionaries at Oculus VR specialize in creating a headset called the Oculus Rift that allows 360 degree gaming with motion tracking.

Gamers like junior Alex Small are excited for this revolution in gaming.

“Gaming is going to be pretty cool, it’s going to be not so generalized in one area. You can look around your room and see everything,” Small said.

Virtual reality technology opens more doors than an enhanced video game experience.

It puts you in a virtual world where you can create whatever you want.”

— Bryan Tasior

Microsoft’s headset, the HoloLens, which is currently in development, differs from creations like the Oculus Rift because it actually uses holograms. According to Microsoft sofware engineer Alex Kipman, their product is the first, fully untethered holographic computer, and it will be available within the same time frame that Windows 10 is launched later this year.

Physics teacher Bryan Tasior thinks this is technology like something out of a sci-fi TV program.

“It reminds me of the holodeck on Star Trek, which is one of my favorite shows, “ Tasior said.

“It puts you in a virtual world where you can create whatever you want.”

Tasior can see his students using the HoloLens to find and measure forces in his classroom.

The way we use technology is rapidly evolving with virtual reality, so Tasior’s vision may not be as far away as we think. Microsoft and Oculus VR are not the only companies working in this area. Other companies include Valve, Sony and Google.