I’d like to start this post with a quick introduction to VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) in case anyone reading is (understandably) a little confused by these huge technological advances. I’ll be honest, at first I was pretty scared to even attempt to understand them, but once you get your head around them, it’s really quite straightforward to see how they are going to impact our future.
VR and AR are closely related and the only real way they differ is how immersive they are. With VR, an experience is 100% immersive – the goggles or headset the viewer wears completely shuts out the real world, meaning everything you “see” is entirely virtual, making for a more realistic experience as you are fully immersed.
AR, on the other hand, is less immersive. Images, video, and other visual stimuli are layered over reality, supplementing the real world with virtual content. Take Pokemon Go for example; in this app, the world of Pokemon is layered over our own physical world, generating images of an augmented reality everywhere the user goes, simply with access to your smartphone’s camera.
Today, I’m going to let you in on vTime: a virtual reality social network that allows anyone, anywhere to spend time with family and friends in virtual reality. As the first of its kind, launched in December 2015, vTime has generated just under half a million downloads in less than a year and is a leader in the field of VR social networks.
To use the network you simply need to be equipped with a VR headset (your friends too) and then you create an avatar to act for you in the virtual world. Pick one of the 18 virtual destinations and voila! You and your friends are there, chatting (as avatars) in real time.
I saw it described really nicely somewhere as similar to being dropped into a version of the Sims, where you actually get to play within the environment itself rather than controlling characters from behind a computer screen.
When the picture sharing function was introduced into vTime, users were suddenly able to create their own personal virtual destination from their favourite photographs. CEO of vTime, Martin Kenwright explained the importance of this function, saying that “being sociable isn’t just about chatting, it’s also about sharing your personal memories with others. So now, we’re letting you do just that; by giving you access to The Archive, and the freedom to upload your own images to the 360 Gallery”.
Not only that, but you can take selfies within the vTime environments, enhancing socialisation. Stay tuned for my next post, in which I’ll share how Facebook are engaging Virtual Reality within their network, and show you just how cool a virtual reality selfie can be!