A middle-aged white man sees himself as a young black woman being taunted by a racist.
These are not plots of dystopian movies. They are experiences that take place in virtual reality, which technologists believe will be the next major platform for everything from gaming to social interaction and perhaps even global diplomacy.
Marketers predict VR headsets will soon top wish lists for kids and young adults from the Silicon Valley to Hong Kong. Which already seems to be happening with PlayStation VR pre-orders being sold out on Amazon, and the company’s Move and PS Camera seeing a growth of 1000 percent in sales, within hours of the unveiling.
PlayStation VR geared for a global launch in October.
The computer-generated images beamed to devices strapped around a person’s head allow users to experience “presence” — the sense that they’re entering video games or movies, climbing a treacherous Vietnamese mountain or scuba diving at a coral reef.
Potential benefits include hands-on teaching with a classroom of far-flung students, or holding a business meeting whose global participants sense they’re rubbing elbows.
The upcoming rollout of the Oculus Rift — a $599 headset offering studio-quality VR to the general public — is expected to jump-start industry sales.
Sony meanwhile announced at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco it would launch its PlayStation VR headgear priced at $399 in October. Many others have VR equipment hitting the market.
Along with its cousin, augmented reality, VR is forecast as a huge market that could push aside smart phones and computer tablets.