I was talking to my grandma the other day when I got an email saying my booking for a one-on-one ‘intimate’ experience has been confirmed. So I took a moment and thought to myself, “it doesn’t get much worse than this. On second thought, at least its not a mail from work”. So my natural reaction was to hit the spam button before reading it just like how I deal with all the other problems in my life. But it also had an attachment with a name that I usually use as my username. This creeped me out a little. So I opened the mail. It said, with my ticket, I would be able to watch a concert on my phone, live, in VR. I confirmed it was spam but it got me thinking. How real is real? How much ‘immersiveness’ do we really need to be able to say, “wow! that really felt like real life”? I mean, TV is getting real, movies are getting real, reality TV is…wait that piece of shit is still garbage. People like it when actors show a little humour even during the sad scenes. This, I think is a step closer to reality. Same goes with virtual reality. A ‘true’ virtual reality experience however, would take a few more years of development. There is however, a problem with this whole thing. This tech is tailored to satisfy the average customer and will keep on adapting with that motive. I am not saying that all immersive tech is evolving this way. I am only talking about those used in the entertainment industry. Let me explain.
There was a study done in the field of psycho-acoustics where people were made to listen to recorded sounds of a forest they hadn’t been to. The test was conducted in a controlled environment using high quality speakers. The aim of the experiment was to identify the type of surround-sound tech that people liked the most. So the sounds were played back a number of times, each time using different surround sound technologies. They were also made to listen to a version where the played back audio was perceived to be closest to the actual environment (with minimum special effects). It was found that people preferred the slightly exaggerated version over the close-to-original version. This is what I am slightly concerned about. Despite having the tech capable of replicating the actual experience, we still prefer to go for the artificially modified versions of it. Does this imply that you need to make the reality ‘realer’ to make it feel real? Or do people prefer distorted realities over actual ones? I can imagine a future(not that far from now) where people would be exposed to these ‘fake’ realities even before experiencing the real thing. For example, an AR experience of a jungle where you can go on a trek, run around, scare birds, eat a snake, you know, all that good stuff. I am interested to know how the future generation would react when they experience the real thing for the first time in real life. Pretty sure there will be quite a lot of disappointment because they couldn’t do it while sitting on their couch, eating leftover pizza(like me).