When I was growing up I never really asked for much. I was a simple and relatively mute child who wanted nothing more than to read books and be left alone. Friends were constantly getting the newest and best video game systems each year for Christmas or Birthdays, I always got them a few years later and never minded much. I eventually grew to become a heavy gamer, making money on the side in small tournaments mainly using hand me down computers or other friends consoles. This is all well and good until I heard that Virtual Reality was being pushed out in 2016 for early adopters either with the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift. This year I decided to fulfill my childhood wish of buying my very own Gaming PC for the very first time and be one of the first to regularly explore the possibilities of the new medium.
I went a bit overboard. For someone on the path to Financial Independence with a 50% + savings rate – I will survive. I purchased a Oculus Bundle pack from Best Buy and went with a Middle Range package for about $2,200. This did not include monitors which I needed for my work a home setup, so after grabbing a pair of the cheapest monitors and a mount – virtual reality cost about $2,500 to get into it. There are for sure cheaper options out there such as the Cardboard or the Gear, but I had been planning to see how I could possibly research business ideas in the realm, and I needed a Desktop as a Media Center anyway, so I bit the bullet on my first ever computer. I try not to hate on myself too much, as the VR aspect was really only $600. I just wanted a strong computer for streaming movies and music to last me the next 5 years anyway.
Virtual Reality is crazy. There really is no words that do it justice due to the sheer immersiveness. It is one of those things that everyone will judge and call stupid until it’s on their face for about 5 seconds. I have seen peoples feelings on the tech and its use change within moments of trying it. The depth is truly fantastic. The number of experiences and everything is somewhat limited now, the number of people that currently are on these devices is limited so the larger budget stuff is yet to come. However you can see people hacking away, creating entire world spaces that will soon become the next most popular thing.
While this could be considered an extreme splurge it can also be considered huge savings feature. With the Oculus, you could easily stave off desires of wanting to spend money on an expensive Parisian vacation. Earlier this morning I woke up in my bed in NYC, put on my goggles and was having a face to face conversation with the avatar of a friend that lives in Philadelphia. The cartoonish avatars will soon give way to photorealistic ones, but that is not a huge focus as we sit and converse on a rooftop cafe with the most perfect view of the Eiffel Tower you could imagine. Once that got boring we switched the scenery over to a plush mid-century red velvet movie theater and streamed some of our latest Overwatch matches on a 40 foot screen while sitting next to each other talking. Their is starting to become less and less of a need for people to be in the same physical location, we can hang out extremely well and keep our friendship thriving across a number of digital media. The amount of possibilities seems endless when you consider that this is just the start.
Many of the games are low budget and kitschy for a silly price – anywhere from $10 to $40 these days. I have not wasted my money with too many full budget games as they seem to be similar to iPhone games, all flash and no substance. As the platform matures and the market grows, real game studios will spend real money and rapid advancement will take place. For now, I aim at the most replayable games or the free and inexpensive experience and social apps. Many things are offered at no charge purely to get people using the product, and the social networks are so interesting and fun to show new users. Sending someone into a random room filled with the avatars of 20 VR nerds dispersed throughout the world is amazing for conversation.
One of the most amazing things that always comes to my mind is the way V changes your perspective. We are so used to dealing with digital media on a flat panel screen, life is very predictable in that regard. VR has no rules in that nature, and developers are running wild with it. There are mini movie scenes where you have rolling perspective tunneling through the scene, a tinker toy story where you fly above and through buildings by turning your head and body. There is no parallel to the way that we currently live, we do not process information this way yet. It is going to be amazing to see what sort of effect this technology has on our culture and society.
Something that has yet to come out yet is some sort of VR Financial tools. I am sure the early stage nature of it has security gaps a mile wide, but I cannot wait to see what comes out. Imagine Mint or Personal Capital in Virtual Reality? Between Zillow and Google Street View, we should be able to get digital renders of our own homes and do remodel planning with 3d wireframing. We could see our money in literal piles of whatever currency we like, be that cash or diamonds or a pool of gold coins! Being able to physically travel through your own financial world will again give us entirely new perspectives on our money. The boat of your wealth may need some additional shoring up of risk-less assets given current market conditions, but you wouldn’t have known till the data was visualized in these new ways.
There are some cons to the current system, things aren’t fully there yet. The original iPod was not the be all and end all, nor will be the 2016 Oculus or Vive. They do set a great platform that people can work on though. The text resolution when reading through the goggles will make your eyeballs sizzle out of your head, something that will take time and tech. Wireless and weightless headsets will end up being as ubiquitous and likely combined with sunglasses. What looks like a frivolous electronic gizmo this year, will play a huge part in our lives in just a few years. Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, the benefits to the tech are too numerous. I wanted to get ahead of the tech curve and be in the know as early as possible about this one, hopefully to figure out a way to share my love of the future with the world!