According to a new Kickstarter campaign “The next generation of virtual reality is here. Until now, there hasn’t been a way to truly immerse yourself into virtual worlds in a way that allows natural, full-body interaction. Oculus Rift gave us a window to see them and the Virtuix Omni will let us walk through them, but there’s still one piece missing from the virtual space- you.”
With consumer level, full immersion VR just on the horizon, will we become what the ancient Greeks would have looked too like their god Proteus? The name, Proteus is derived from protean, which means to say, adapt, or to frequently change. Wikipedia states; “The Proteus effect describes a phenomenon wherein the behavior of an individual operating under a digital persona adapts to conform to that persona.”
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B00CQYZDAU” locale=”us” height=”107″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/414jwayIt-L._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]I mentioned this effect in my digital mirror article. In Stanford University’s virtual reality lab participants have experienced what’s been called the Proteus Effect. With the latest in virtual reality technology, users were immersed in virtual environments. When confronted with a mirror, the user’s avatar represented in the reflection could be altered, and studies show that this dramatically changed the behaviors and attitudes given the avatar’s appearance. For example, if the avatar was taller, the user would negotiate more aggressively than the users who were given shorter avatars. It was found that the behavioral changes stemming from the virtual environment transferred to subsequent face-to-face interactions. This is only a graphical avatar, but studies show how dramatic the effect can be on people who use virtual reality for therapy.
With the Oculus Rift, PrioVR and a number of other full immersion VR technologies being released, the virtual world will be more pervasive than the television. If VR can help us reflect and become the best versions of ourselves, I welcome it. Though, just like the potential of the TV has been siphoned into advertising and such, it is my hope that we use the potential of this new technology and wield it as if we were Proteus. We now have the power to embody what our ancestors worshiped. Will we take the opportunity?
Image source: PrioVR
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