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Google has invested 2 million in the augmented-reality startup Magic Leap, while Sony and Samsung are both developing virtual-reality headsets, according to .
Much was made of Facebook's billion purchase of VR Kickstarter darling Oculus Rift last March, as Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that the company was playing the long game: “One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.”, followed by a lunchtime spelunk through Thailand’s water caves.
Since the 1990s, the term display depressive and obsessive-compulsive tendencies, while a minority “appear addicted to the Internet.” Then there are the infamous World of Warcraft players who lose themselves in their massive online universe.
In 2004, Zhang Xiaoyi, a 13-year-old from China, reportedly committed suicide after playing Wo W for 36 consecutive hours, in order to “join the heroes of the game he worshipped.” In 2009, a three-year-old girl from New Mexico tragically passed away from malnutrition and dehydration; on the day of her death, her mother was said to have spent 15 hours playing the game.
Aboujaoude notes that people who report much more fulfillment from virtual scenarios often have underlying conditions, such as untreated social anxiety, and those cases should not be taken lightly.
It is not, however, the reason why all people choose to immerse themselves in other worlds—whether it’s through a book, a TV show, or a 3-D video game., Yi-Fu Tuan writes about society’s feelings on the titular subject: “Escapism has a somewhat negative meaning in our society and perhaps in all societies.
Last month, Microsoft revealed Project Holo Lens, a headset that creates high-definition holograms, which has been secretly under development since around 2010, according to .
Its thick, black lenses use an advanced depth camera, sensors, and several processing units to process thousands of bouncing light particles, in order to project holographic models on the kitchen counter, or take the wearer on a hyperrealistic trip to Mars.
With VR, it is possible that instead of simply escaping reality by focusing on a TV show, for example, people may choose to replace an unhappy reality with a better, virtual one.
Despite mass media interest from publications like , the technology wasn’t there—or it was too expensive—and the audience was a tad too niche.
Save for some fruits of its early research, purchased in sum by Sun Microsystems, VPL’s sole legacy has been its popularization of the term “virtual reality.”Thirty years have passed since then, and the landscape has finally shifted in virtual reality’s favor.
As the futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted, somewhat hyperbolically, in 2003, “By the 2030s, virtual reality will be totally realistic and compelling and we will spend most of our time in virtual environments ...
We will all become virtual humans.” In theory, such escapism is nothing new—as critics of increased TV, Internet, and smartphone usage will tell you—but as VR technology continues to blossom, the worlds that they generate will become increasingly realistic, as Kurzweil explained, creating a greater potential for overuse.