Virtual Reality Reality

Tonight, I just had an epiphany.  It was as if I had finally woken up from a long slumber to the fact that we are now living in what I always thought was “The Future”… or rather… “The Future is Now” It’s Happening!

While I eagerly awaited this evening’s expert’s talk by the legendary cinematographer, John Mathieson, on the future of film making and the impact of advance technology on the film industry, courtesy of Samsung Bluehouse; I was unexpectedly distracted by an array of Samsung’s latest products showcased on the night.  They ranged from the usual suspects such as the latest smartphones and tablets, to digital cameras, lenses, curved UHD TV etc. etc. but what intrigued me most were the range of Smart Wearables that Samsung had been working on.  These were, of course, mostly still prototypes but they already promised so much potentials that I just could not help, but to try them out.

Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition on display at the Beaumont Hotel
Latest Samsung Galaxy Note 4 EDGE on display amongst other Latest Technology at the Beaumont Hotel

As you may know, I am not particularly a gadget person these days.  I do not bother to upgrade my phone or my laptop to latest models fresh on the market because it is just too much hassle to transfer all the data from my old phone to a new one, so I minimise the pain by only upgrade when it is necessary to do so, i.e. when my phone is too old and almost broken!!

Back in my teenage years, though, I was an avid manga reader, and loved all things sci-fi.  I grew up watching Ghost In The Shell, reading .Hack series, my favourite video games was Final Fantasy Series, and I loved the Wachowski Brothers’ Matrix Trilogy, so one could say that I was a bit of a geek when it comes to all things virtual reality, and intelligent wearables, as they were called back then.

Ghost In The Shell – One of my favourite Animes

As one of my design projects during the second year of my Bachelor degree in Architecture, I even designed and made a dress that changed colours according to levels of light exposure.  It was a rather clumsy attempt with a few light sensors at various locations on the dress linked onto a little battery powered circuit board that controlled the LED lights sewn into the dress as part of the embroidery.  So, one could guess how intrigued I was when I saw these Smart Wearables by Samsung tonight.

OK, so it was not a piece of clothing or a dress like what I tried to do, but these small gadgets could almost be classified as a type of jewellery or fashion accessories.  The Gear Circle, for example, I found very useful because it is essentially a necklace that transforms into an earphone.  I liked the idea of not having to detangle myself from the long dangling wires that are the norm of normal earphones, or loosing them in my bag, or having them caught on something when I tried to get on a bus etc.  Instead, this Gear Circle hung neatly around one’s neck with no loose wires anywhere…  A nice and tidy solution, which I definitely would buy one when it became available.

Gear Circle.  Image courtesy of Samsung Bluehouse

My favourite gadget of the night, though, was Gear VR Innovator Edition which was an Oculus driven software and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 powered headgear that delivered a full 360 degree immersive virtual reality environment.

The image quality from the AMOLED screen from Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone was superb, and the immersive experience was so real that I found myself a little lost in the virtual space, which was a cinema showing Jurassic Park movie!  I kept turning left and right, moving my hands as if I was walking through the space, trying to experience this vast 360 degree reality, when in actual fact, the image was limited to a tiny screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Oculus VR Cinema Screen for the Samsung VR Innovator Edition

The strangest feeling was when I looked down expecting to see my hands in the virtual space, but of course, they were not visible because they were outside the headgear!!  I was glad that I was not the only one looking ridiculous waving my hands everywhere, because everyone else who tried the headgear were also waving their hands everywhere as well.  Must be the scene where a giant dinosaur was chasing you!

Me trying out the Gear VR headset.  Photograph courtesy of Samsung Bluehouse

The virtual world could be navigated quite easily with a combination of head movements and touch controls on the headset, which made the experience very enjoyable and user friendly.  I was told that various gaming apps and movies would be available for the headset once they release the Gear VR Innovator Edition on the market in time for Christmas shopping rush, but what I found most fascinating was that this little gadget would be the perfect tool for architects and interior designers to present their design concepts to clients.  We all had to present our design concepts with 3D visualisations of the space anyway, and short movies of the space walk-through were very much the norm for big budget projects.  The fact that Gear VR headset was only powered by Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone, meant that even small design studios working on smaller projects with limited budgets could also easily create their own virtual reality video of the space, which could be presented to clients at a very low cost.  That was what I liked the most about this particular Smart Wearable from Samsung.  It was effectively affordable high quality technology accessible to the masses!

Now I wish I were a teenager and had time to play video games because with this Gear VR headset, the experience would be out of this world!

For more information on Samsung’s Smart Wearables, please visit http://www.samsung.com/uk/consumer/mobile-devices/wearables/

 

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