Ben Lang is a futurist and avid gamer who prospected that all of the pieces for a virtual reality revolution were in place back in October 2011. He started RoadToVR.com as an outlet for his desire to learn about VR by reading and writing about it.
He discovered that some of the best discussions were happening on the Meant to be Seen 3D (MTBS3D) forums, and had been following the progression of the Oculus Rift before their successful Kickstarter that launched on August 1, 2012.
He talks about his inspirations for getting involved with tracking the evolution and road towards virtual reality as well as what types of experiences he’s really looking forward to having in VR, including some of the more physical aspects of virtual reality.
Ben talks about the intention and focus of Road to VR in that they’re trying to cover the latest technological developments, but also new and exciting VR experiences that are getting a lot of buzz. He describes some of his favorite VR experiences so far, and what types of VR experiences he’s looking forward to having in the future.
He gives an overview of the state of the VR HMD space as well as which one of the peripheral VR input devices are worth tracking more closely.
Finally, Ben talks about some of the non-gaming potential applications that get him excited, as well as what types of social experiences he’d find really compelling.
Reddit discussion here.
- 0:00 – Founded RoadToVR.com Oct 2011. Allowed him to follow passion of VR. Needed an outlet to write about it in order to learn about it more. Could see that the pieces were there to bring VR to fruition. But at that time you had to be a hacker/maker to enjoy VR because all of the VR HMDs were DIY. Oculus Rift Kickstarter launched on Aug 2012, and he’d been tracking it on the MTBS3D forums. Rift was originally going to be a DIY kit, and then Carmack got involved. It’s been an amazing amount of growth since then. Kudos to Ben for having some winning futurist vision to be able prospect out the potential of the VR space.
- 3:17 – How did you come across MTBS3D forums? Part of the research process to discover that’s where the leading thinking was. People were excited about the Sony HMZ. Forums are a great place to take a deep dive and learn about a topic.
- 4:46 – What was your inspiration for getting excited about VR? Mostly about the technological evolution and it’s impact on society. It’ll be powerful medium going forward because it taps into something deep in your subconscious. It’s not going away any time soon. No specific movie or book served as a singular inspiration. The Matrix is the example of what he uses to use a metaphor for others. But had a lot of thought experiments as to what would be possible – like a physics simulation where you slow down the speed of light.
- 6:29 – What do you want to experience in VR? Studio Ghibli and other films or games where you want to be a part of that world so that you go inside of the stories that you love and be a part of it. Also excited about the adrenaline rushing, and heart-pounding physical interactions with an emotional component made possible with technologies like the Virtuix Omni. Also looking forward to having entire self within VR and be able to recall intense moments with friends.
- 9:24 – Are you coming from a gaming background then? More of a technology futurist. Was carrying around mobile computers before mobile phones. Then tablets and mobile phones came out and that space got boring. Also like to stay on the cutting edge, and VR feels like it’ll have legs and be around for quite a while.
- 11:04 – There’s lots of technological components to this topic, what is Road to VR’s focus and intention with their coverage? They get excited about people doing cool stuff with VR. Trying to pick out the new and awesome hardware as well as innovative VR experiences. The key is what is truly new and exciting. Crash Land is compelling demo. Looking to help document the cool and new VR experiences.
- 12:50 – What are some of the VR demos that are the most compelling? Half Life 2 and the Half Life VR mod that enable hydras controls that add an additional component of immersion. Valve did a great job of creating an engaging world with great story, characters, interesting enemies, and different types of weapons. They did a great job of adapting it to VR. Lots of demos and short experiences that weren’t build from the ground up for VR.
- 14:30 – What are some the top VR products out there that get you excited? Obviously, the Oculus Rift Consumer Version, and can’t wait for the DK2. Sony Morpheus. Microsoft likely coming out with something soon, perhaps at E3. Incumbent game companies were a bit too jaded by the previous failures of VR though which is why it had to come from a grassroots group who could afford to take a risk.
- 17:38 – What sticks out to you at SVVRCon? Everything at SVVRCon worth checking out. Infinadeck omnidirectional treadmill prototype proof of concept. Sandbox Augmented Reality adapter for the Rift. Would like to see new demos for Morpheus.
- 19:44 – What about the Avegant Glyph display technology? There’s a Difference between VR headset and Head-mounted Display. Glyph is a HMD, and not a VR headset. 45-degree FOV. No screendoor effect. The Glyph creators are keeping an eye on VR, and it’d be good to have competition in displays.
- 22:39 – What do you see the potential of VR beyond gaming? Immerse people within another world while your changing bandages on a burn patient. Looking forward to gaming experiences where you can hang out and play poker with friends.
Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio