Oh my Goodness.
Do you know how I watch movies now? I watch them on a giant screen the size of a football field while floating in mid-air over the Grand Canyon.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Let me tell you something: I have seen the future and it is utterly fantastic. In fact, not only have I seen the future, I own the future and have it at my house. Last week, for $249 plus tax, I bought what is literally the most amazing device I’ve ever seen. It is by far the best money I’ve ever spent on anything and I highly, highly recommend you get one as well. It is the first truly new thing in the world in my lifetime, and it brings me totally new experiences every single night. Since the day it arrived, I’ve been utterly obsessed by it and that obsession just gets worse by the day.
The product that literally changed my life overnight is the Oculus Go – the world’s first mass production stand-alone virtual reality headset. It is the best purchase I’ve ever made at any price and I say that without even having to think about it.
The Oculus is also, finally, something in life that is, as I just mentioned, a completely new thing. The only experience I remember that was remotely like this was in 1984 when I used a friend’s Apple Macintosh for the first time.
Before last week, I’d never used VR – not at a tech show or a science lab or anything – so, when I got my Oculus headset from Amazon, set it up, strapped it on my face and turned it on, the experience was completely new to me. As soon as I put it on, I was in a different world where I could do anything or be anything and the laws of physics did not apply. The experience was so strange, in fact, that I was extremely freaked out.
The VR headset comes with a controller that has a thumb track-pad and several buttons that allow you to work the controls and move around in your new world.
With the touch of a few buttons, I can instantly be transported to the main square in Beijing, China, or sit in the front row at concerts of my favorite performers; and, when I turn my head in any direction, I see what’s going on beside me, above me or behind me. It is very much like being there and you feel like the people in the room talking to you are right there with you.
There is paid content but there’s also a ton of free apps and streaming VR content and the possibilities of what you can do are virtually endless: You can hang out with your friends and talk on the left bank in Paris (or the surface of Mars for that matter) or fly effortlessly over national parks in Asia to see what’s there, or you can go on a cruise of Antarctica while staying warm.
It is literally the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It is simply unbelievable.
As soon as I turned the Oculus Go on for the first time, I was in a different world. I looked around and, suddenly, I wasn’t in my den anymore – I was in a grand mansion on a magnificent coast. In the mansion, there was a large screen with all these possibilities of what to do. One that caught my eye right away was called “Epic Roller Coaster” and I chose it, because it sounded fun.
It had me select “Single-rider” or “Multi-rider,” and I selected multi-rider because I thought that would merely create the illusion of people in the seats with me. However, a message came up that said it was “Searching for Other Riders” and I realized it was locating other people with Oculus headsets in other parts of the world and it was going to put them on the roller coaster with me. I was already freaked out enough as it was without having some tech nerd in the Philippines sitting next to me on the roller coaster, so I quickly hit the “Single-rider” button and then I hit start. The coaster car’s safety bars came down over my head and the car started moving forward.
Now, this was very freaky because I realized that, as the car climbed higher and higher in the mountains, what I hadn’t counted on is that virtual roller coasters aren’t limited by cost or the laws of physics or by the safety rules of pesky state amusement park ride inspectors. In the virtual world, they can make roller coasters higher and scarier than you’ve ever seen. I also realized very quickly that this was called “Epic” roller coaster for a very good reason. Some boulders shook loose from the mountain and came within inches of crushing my car and I could see to my horror that the first major drop up ahead was longer, steeper and faster than any I’d ever seen in the real world in my life. As the coaster approached the colossal drop, I knew I had to stop the car. I panicked because I realized at that moment that I had no idea how to turn it off. I think I read once that if you die in virtual world you die in real life too, but I may be thinking of dreams.
When panic set in, I couldn’t think straight, and finally a solution hit me. I did the only thing I could think of: I ripped the headset off my head.
After the roller coaster ride, I tried a thousand other things in my new world, all of which were amazing. Virtual reality is very much like real reality only a lot better because, unlike this reality, you can control things and make them happen the way you want. I’m still learning and still trying things all the time.
Of all the movies I’ve seen in my life, the one that most horrified me was the first Resident Evil movie about a team of people securely locked in an underground laboratory – a tunnel network – with thousands of terrifying killer mutants and animals. The whole thing is so horrible and claustrophobic that years ago when it came out I could barely watch it, but I did, and it scared me to death. I mean it utterly horrified me. I couldn’t sleep for three nights after seeing it and I still have nightmares about it to this day. Well, now, with the Oculus Go, I can get the Resident Evil game and totally immerse myself in that world. It will be like I am actually there trapped inside the lab. So how cool will that be. That’s just one of a nearly infinite number of fun things you can do with your Oculus.
The other day, I brought it into the Rhino Times office and my co-workers tried it and they were just as amazed as I was.
The rechargeable battery lasts three hours on a charge, but once you’re in the world you never want to leave. Some people whose comments I have read online love it so much they’ve rigged up ways to use it while it is charging. Oculus warns people vehemently not to do this, but, if they really didn’t want people to do it, then why have did they make something that is much more addictive than crack.
It is absolutely frightening how addictive it is. The other night I was looking for the hand-held controller – which you have to have to operate it – and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I started to panic and I tore the house up like a crack addict coming down off a high who knew he had some stash left somewhere in the house.
The other bad thing about it is that I have a 65-inch TV that looked giant to me when I first got it – and that I used to love – but now when I watch TV or movies in this world, it looks like a tiny, tiny little TV. I laugh because, you know, it’s bigger than most TV’s – but it’s by no means the size of a football field (nor is it, by the way, floating in air above the Grand Canyon.)
I do feel a need to limit myself with my Oculus Go, so I have implemented a self-imposed rule on my usage and I have been pretty good about sticking to it: I limit my use to no more than six three-hour periods a day. I worry that any more than that might be unhealthy.
I have absolutely no doubt this is the wave of the future. You can have your dull little world with all its constrictions and rules like gravity. You can rip my Oculus from my cold dead head.
The next time I have to fly somewhere I’m going to take the headset on the plane and just watch movies on my giant screen over the Grand Canyon. I won’t even know that the seats in front of me and behind me are filled with screaming, crying children. Heck, the plane could crash and I would never have a clue.
The other thing that I like a lot about it is that you look really, really cool with the headset on, not nerdy at all.