Conversations with what is real and what is unreal has a sibling now… the universe of virtual reality. Even Zuckerberg wrote in March 2014 that the day isn’t far when ‘we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people’. Geoff Mulgan declares that ‘as the Internet of things advances, the very notion of a clear dividing line between reality and virtual reality becomes blurred, sometimes in creative ways.’

I guess it is too early in the day for someone misbehaving on Facebook getting a resounding virtual slap that can actually be felt or for some real-time session on the art of kissing by some Hollywood diva for a learner, let’s say, in a café in Hauz Khas village in Delhi. But it is time now for not just games but also cinema, multi-screen and home theatre that virtually scale up the experience of regular 2D & 3D videos to the level of a Movie Hall. It is time for Travel enthusiasts to opt for 360 degree virtual tours of all those places where they have not yet been… do the penguin walk on the Chader Trek in Leh, explore the hidden city of Petra, or even trudge up the Everest to watch the planet from its summit. As Nick Woodman puts it, it is possible now for students to watch even a hip replacement surgery using a virtual reality headset, which actually happened in France. These are all conversations that have a real-time impact on human perceptions.

But the question is… are we there?

Samsung has taken that giant leap and brought us face-to-face with VR and this conversation, I believe, has just begun in earnest. Their Gear VR works seamlessly with Samsung Galaxy flagship smartphones (Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, Note 5 (Dual SIM) to deliver a fantastico Mobile Virtual Reality experience by leveraging each device’s super AMOLED display & resolution to provide the colour, clarity and performance needed for an amazing virtual reality conversation. It is indeed a great conversation with your own perceptions.

It is time to look up

Gear VR - It is time to look up and have an intimate conversation with VR

Gear VR – It is time to look up and have an intimate conversation with VR

Yes indeed, it is time to look up to the reality that propels you to a ‘next level’ mobile entertainment experience with a robust selection of 2D and 3D videos, immersive gaming across genres, 360 degree video and experiential content that are introduced in association with Oculus.

My experience with this device was unforgettable… as the only VR conversation I had ever had until now was with the cheap cardboard one that I had assembled a few months back. The new Samsung Gear VR has a wide interface, ergonomic design and large touchpad, is built with soft, flexible cushioning and lightweight materials, has ergonomic adjustable straps, and an embossed marker in the centre of the touchpad for quick orientation. The 96 degree wide field of view and the life-like images with high pixel density were a charm for the eyes of the mind and the mind of the eyes! And yes, there was no motion blur and, therefore, no dizziness.

I happened to ask an executive from Samsung if buyers would be limited in their gaming experience. ‘Not at all,’ he replied, ‘there are over 150+ games and apps and there is also the additional possibility of pairing the Gear VR with a game pad to optimize the gaming experience.

‘Wow!’ I said, ‘This is music to my ears.’

Cardboard VR kit... the cheaper alternative but not as immersive as the Samsung Gear VR

Cardboard VR kit… the cheaper alternative but not as immersive as the Samsung Gear VR

I was informed that in addition to all this, the VR Gallery app makes the phone gallery, containing the user’s photos and videos, available for viewing in the larger-than-life VR. I looked at the 201.9 x 116.4 x 92.6 mm weighing a mere 318g in awe. The conversation with the VR way of life is enhanced with sensor accelerator and a gyro sensor.

I guess that making VR hardware available and then ensuring it reaches their hands and gets strapped to their faces is a vital step… but I must mention here that a complete conversation is possible only if it gets connected to Samsung’s high end devices already mentioned elsewhere in this post. Let me add that the Analyst firm SuperData has predicted a total spend of $5.1bn on VR hardware and software in 2016. How much of this will be on cheap mobile VR devices like the one that I have is yet a conjecture… but I know that the VR conversation with the Gear VR is perceptive indeed.

Let me end this post by quoting Charles Stross: ‘It turns out that the killer application for virtual reality is other human beings. Build a world that people want to inhabit, and the inhabitants will come.’ Time for VR is here.

.

.

.

Samsung Gear VR is available in India

Samsung Gear VR is available in India

.

.

.

Arvind Passey
02 February 2016

.

.

.

.

.

.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

.