The real world has got pretty strange. We are being asked to stay at home and only speak to family and friends through video conferencing. We are seeing our health service, emergency front-liners and other essential workers pushed to the limits. It is no wonder that we are looking for ways to escape – and there is no better way than in entering a virtual reality, far away from this one.
Here we take you through the possibilities of Virtual Reality and how it could keep you sane and happy in your stay at home world.
Virtual Reality Games
Let’s start with the obvious – the gaming sector is leading the way in VR entertainment. There is no better way to escape our current reality than getting lost in the narrative and immersive interaction of a great game. Game developers really are at the cutting edge of some of the most exciting virtual experiences.
The games you might enjoy are a matter of taste. You may want to be thrilled, just have a bit of fun or find yourself lost in fantastical worlds. Let’s take you through some possibilities and you can choose the game that will fill your quarantine time.
Blood and Truth
Playstation VR is always going to produce a game with a great narrative. Blood and Truth is one of its most recent additions to its VR games library. As the name suggests, this is not a game full of flower-filled walks in country meadows. It is based on the London Heist, a true killer app. It is much like being dropped into a Tarantino movie and experiencing the craziness of the car chases, shoot outs and stealthy slipperiness in the backstreets of London. The gameplay is excellent, the narrative strong – but you will end up loving this game because of the set pieces.
Gran Turismo Sport
So shoot ‘em ups and the general over-the-top violence of Blook and Truth is not your thing. Instead, you want to get in a car and drive it really fast. Gran Turismo Sport VR is probably the most realistic racing game you can play. You will get up close to some amazing cars – all rendered in spectacular detail. You will travel the world with the tour and experience the locations.
The first person VR-mode allows you to sit in the driving seat and take on the race track with all the adrenaline and none of the danger. If you find yourself in a tree on this game, you can just click play again.
Maybe you are looking for something a little more old school in your cutting edge tech. A classic platform game reimagined into a 3D world you can explore. Lucky’s Tale is brought to you by Oculus Rift. It is a game where you wander around collecting boxes, other collectables, take part in jumping challengings and other side games. You will fall in love with your cute avatar – though this might be something that the kids could get lost in more than you.
Virtual Reality Movies
Although not as dominant as the gaming sector, the film industry is making a solid move into VR experiences. Dubbed by Techradar as the next generation of storytelling, VR allows you to immerse yourself into the world of the characters and experience the action close up and in 360 degrees. Imagine watching the action of the movie but also having the freedom to turn your head and have a good look around.
Yet, this is an industry in development and not all movie experiences are meant for VR. You will need to do a little research to find the VR experiences worth the money.
If you want something to entertain the kids, then Invasion offers a fun experience. It is an Emmy award-winning short film. You will be taken into the technicolor world of two aliens who have dreams of taking over the world. However, the first creatures they meat are some adorable rabbits. The animation is stunning and the storytelling beautiful. Ethan Hawke narrates and takes the VR viewer through this beautifully visualised world.
Ashes to Ashes
This movie is definitely not for the kids. With some adult action, this story tells the tale of a family who is more than a little dysfunctional. You might want some reassurance that your home is not as crazy as it feels right now, so experiencing the world of Ashes to Ashes should be just the medicine you need. The family are struggling with the loss of the grandfather. The grandfather’s last wish was to have his ashes blown up.
The quirky nature of this movie is demonstrated in the perspective on the story – you are the urn – and you are able to observe the world around you as the craziness takes place. Although a passive role in the movie, it is intriguing to watch the world from this viewpoint.
What is unique is that you also get to view the behind the scenes process too, including the camera team and the actors when out of character. This movie really is a full-on experience.
The Conjuring 2
Getting closer to the action in a horror film certainly won’t be for everyone. However, the Enfield 360 Experience will certainly grip you. At the start of the experience, you will meet up with the director of the film who will offer a brief introduction. You will then enter the house that is so violently haunted. The house will soon react to your presence and will do all it can to frighten you out of its walls. A fairly terrifying movie and one for those who don’t scare too easily.
Virtual Reality Fitness
Being homebound and bored is a bad combination for our overall fitness. Not only will you more likely to eat your way through the boredom of lockdown, but you will spend more time sitting in front of Netflix and Amazon. So, the opportunity to get in a good exercise routine is going to be essential to maintaining your health. A good exercise session is not only good for your physical wellbeing but it will also help with your mental health too. The more you sit around, the more your brain will become lethargic and so depressed – or prone to an overwhelming surge of cortisol from the stress that can heighten your anxiety.
Consequently, the existence of some pretty amazing VR fitness apps – with accompanying user-interface devices – could keep you trim and sane through these crazy times. Let’s explore some of the best fitness app developers to check out.
Icaros, based in Munich, blends the gaming world with the chance to get a workout. Although you are trapped and need an alternative to the gym right now, you could already have started to tire of the repetition and dryness of your normal routine. The vision of Ocaros is to put you in the role of the main character in the game and then exercise the key muscle groups with the activities involved in completing the gameplay.
Not only are Icaros developing the app but also cradles for your knees and elbows, as well as a set of handlebars. You can choose your VR headset – whether it is Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR. You will get a full workout while you are concentrating on flying through iconic landscapes such as the Alps. Imagine touring the world while getting fit while you tour the world. And this is just the start of the gaming apps they plan to release.
The problem? You will need more than $8000 for the user-interface kit.
Do you need something a little more reasonable? How about buying a virtual bike to connect to your headset for about $450? You can use the virtual experience to cycle through locations around the world. You can also take on the extraordinary experience of BMX, doing those incredible tricks and spins. Alternatively, you can take on the Tour de France or take part in a 30-minute spin class. Fitness opportunities are endless – developing both cardio health and muscle strength.
So, you don’t want any extra expense and equipment that only holds one application. Fair enough. Virtual Reality goggles and apps are expensive enough without these additional user interface devices. Runtastic offer something that can be used anywhere – in your home and your garden – maybe even in the local park if you have the chance for an hour exercising outdoors – the opportunities for multiple setting exercise are only limited by, well, the fact we are stuck at home. Runtastic have developed an app that provides you with a virtual personal trainer. With the Oculus Rift headset, you can follow the instructions of the trainer wherever you are. You will be able to double-check that you are doing the exercise correctly.
The weight of the headset is a little restrictive – but the possibility of improving our fitness is exciting.
Virtual Reality Education
One of the most challenging realities of the Covid-19 lockdown is the closure of schools and the need for parents to undertake the role of a teacher in the homeschool. It is time for parents to realise that this learning business is not as easy as they imagined. The change in role with the children, in such a stressful time, can also be a cause of conflict.
How can VR help you out in this stressful time? How can you help your child progress while maintaining a stress-free and supportive environment? Thank goodness for VR.
Virtual Field Trips
A company called Doghead Simulations have created the most amazing virtual reality software. Students can enter the world of the app and be transported to many historically and geographically significant locations around the world. Called rumii, the app allows students to hook up with others in different locations and experience the world together. You may never need to interact with your child during these field trips, as they chat away to Chinese learners while looking at a monument in North Africa.
The building of accurate environments is a significant task and one not to be underestimated. However, Discovery Education has already created field trips to aerospace centers, as well as exploring significant issues on the frontline, such as the opioid crisis.
Improved online experience
Online learning is wonderful and is probably helping you out massively in these difficult times. However, a lot of online learning is quite passive, requiring students to read and listen and with little need to interact. The chances of this learning sticking are relatively slim, as our memory needs to be immersed in experiences to better assimilate the ideas and concepts addressed.
Lifeliqe have developed a host of models for chemistry, biology and physics that bring events into 3D reality and fully interactive. Not only can they get up close to the models but also open them up, rotate then and zoom up close.
Relationship with a tutor
If you have an online tutor, building the rapport and trust needed to drive learning forward is challenging. The virtual reality tutoring experiences can put the tutor in the room with the student as if they are sitting side by side. Not only this, but experts believe that the use of the avatars in these apps helps students take risks. The child can mask themselves behind the virtual identity and therefore offer a response or an opinion when it would normally have made them unsafe. This is called the Proteus Effect and Doghead Simulations have evidence to suggest that this is a significant bonus for online tutoring and the relationship with the students.
Virtual Reality Culture
What you might miss more than anything is the chance to travel the world and see some of the cultural wonders of the world. Being stuck in your home during the quarantine can make you feel stir crazy. Escaping into art could be just the thing or exploring some of the world’s most amazing monuments.
Google Arts and Culture
Google, the powerhouse of app development, has created an app to allow you to virtually tour some of the most amazing places in the world. From the museum to the art gallery and beyond, you can get your cultural fix from your home.
What is so special is that you get up close to the work of historical giants. Imagine seeing the work of Van Gogh or Rembrandt, not only appreciating the brush strokes but also hearing the audio guide from a renowned expert on this painting. Although some complain that it is just a collation of pictures in an app, these are pictures that are displayed all over the world.
If you want to travel and see the cultures in the world, then you should opt for Google Earth instead. Imagine taking the 360-degree view on Google Streetview but in virtual reality. What is amazing is that the app Google Earth starts your journey in space – which should help you get some perspective!
Boulevard used to be called WoofbertVR. They are responsible for 3D renderings of several museums and cultural sites throughout England and San Francisco. What is amazing is that you can do more than just look at the site. At the tap of a button, you can get all the information you need to know about what you are looking at. There is also an audio tour if you don’t fancy reading too much.
The Kremer Museum
On a smaller scale and a great starting point is a collation of grandmasters of art. There are 74 Flemish and Dutch paintings, masters of the age, gathered together in one place. If you really wanted that trip to Europe to see these paintings in place, this virtual tour might be your best back up plan.
Virtual Reality Experiences
If you have the HTC VR headset, you might want to climb Everest in your living room. It could be that you fancy training as if you are a space pirate. Maybe you want to get into the lab to see experiments completed up close. The experiences are wondrous.
Most reviewers prefer the Oculus Rift headset. Here you can experience the story of the fisherman, become involved in the story of Star Wars or explore the Earth in minuscule detail.
If you don’t want to spend money on the apps, you should try these great free VR experiences:
- Within – a journey into the virtual world of some global VR content creators – the YouTube of the VR world.
- BBC Earth: Life in VR is a gree app that has won Google Play Awards. It is brilliant for young kids to learn about life around them. Always wanted to take them to the Californian coast, maybe this stay in place time is just the right moment to transport them there virtually.
- Incell VR: don’t limit your travel to the wider world. Use your VR equipment to explore the inner workings of the human body. Parts of this gamify the exploration of our biology – so great for kids.
- Dream Vision is amazing for offering a host of free apps. There is the Romans from Mars 360, VR flight simulator, VR Noir, VR Hungry Shark Cage and so many more. All the Dream Vision apps are available through Google Play and your iOS apps provider.
- The New York Times VR experience known as NYT VR is the most powerful free app experience. You get the chance to get up close with some of the most amazing journalism in the world. As long as you download the videos before you attempt to experience ground zero of a story, you should enjoy an uninterrupted experience.
- And, none of the streaming apps, whether it is HBO, Netflix, Amazon or Disney, charge you extra to view the movies through your VR headset. It is not an interactive world, but the experience is much more immersive.
With all these experiences available, from culture to learning to games to fitness, there should be no reason to feel bored at home. Get your headset, set yourself up with the apps and enjoy a different world away from the traumas of our time. We may all be struggling with our present reality and this is a great reason to take yourself to another, more virtual reality.