Teleconferencing is another idea in the works. It’s easy to imagine strapping on a Rift and finding yourself across a table from someone who is actually thousands of miles away (or at least you’ll be across from their avatar). Oculus has VR Chat prototypes in the works, and a demo that Epic Games unveiled in March allows two players wearing Rifts to interact with each other’s avatars in the same virtual living room. “The key,” Abrash says, “is generating the cues that tell us we’re in a real place in the presence of another person: eye motion, facial expressions, body language, voice, gestures. Getting all that working perfectly is a huge task, but getting it to be good enough to be widely useful may be quite doable.”
The list of potential uses goes on. Bring a classroom full of kids inside any museum in the world—no lines, no price of admission. Hell, that goes for vacations too. Even getaways of the mental variety: Why spring for a shaman-guided ayahuasca trip in Peru when you can dive into a drug-free epiphany anytime you want? And let’s not even talk about the oft-predicted sex simulators. “Hardware, while essential, is just an enabler,” Abrash says. “In the end, the future of VR lies in the unique, compelling experiences that get created in software, and if I knew what those would be, even in broad outline, I would be very happy. Right now we don’t even know what kind of artwork and rendering techniques work in VR, much less what experiences.”
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