Virtual reality for a long time has been in realms of science fiction: from Stanley G. Weinbaum’s “Pygmalion’s Spectacles”, the first recognised work of fiction to feature virtual reality to Star Trek’s Holodeck and of course the Matrix where (16 year old spoiler alert) the protagonist Neo, discovers he has been living in a simulated world his whole life.
There have been very few notable attempts to create a consumer device which enables us to enter virtual worlds like in the above mentioned works of fiction. If you, like me, were a child of 90’s you may remember Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, a device which released to much criticism for being uncomfortable, too expensive and the “total immersion” factor which requires VR to work, being absent. Plus its marketing wasn’t exactly great, with one advert looking like a horror film trailer about an evil robot that’s after your eyeballs.
With important things like positional head tracking, decent stereoscopic 3D, a non-neck crushing device weight and the massive price tag meant that VR was to wait in the shadows of expensive arcade machines, waiting for its time to come.
Meet the new poster child for virtual reality: The Oculus Rift. This headset was developed by Oculus VR and was initially funded via crowd-funding on Kickstarter. While the price point has not been announced, it is expected to be an affordable device with great ergonomics, a full 6 degrees of freedom and is supposedly the weight of a baseball cap. I do concede however, for the fashionable person, it’s not the most en trend.
The obvious applications for this device has been video games and film, as being immersed in a fictional world by being a part of that experience rather than simply watching it on a screen will be a massive step closer to fulfilling that dream of virtual reality. However, that is not its only potential use.
In 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced he would be acquiring the company for a tidy sum of £2 billion. In his lengthy post on Facebook, he mentions a couple of example scenarios that he’s interested in:
“Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home.”
The kinds of possibilities that this hardware could offer the world are staggering. A surgeon on the other side of the world could operate on someone or being able to go under the Great Barrier Reef and swim among the fish, from the comfort of your desk chair or sofa.
Virtual Reality and the Fashion Industry
If you’ve made it this far and wondered: what about fashion? Here’s some food for thought…
The one downfall about shopping online is you don’t really know what the product you just bought will be like until it arrives. Once your new item of clothing arrives, it turns out you’ve bought what feels like some daring item from a sand paper themed collection.
What if you could walk around a virtual high street store and select your items, put them on a virtual model and see how they sit? Granted you wouldn’t be able to tell how the material felt yet, but it’s being worked on as I type: see here.
Fashion Week FROW
Speaking of a first hand experience, imagine being able to be in the same company as Victoria Beckham, Anna Wintour or Karl Lagerfeld and enjoying the glitz and glamour of the catwalk, but sitting at home eating doughnuts and not being judged by your peers?
Being a virtual spectator will open a new door for emerging bloggers and those unable to obtain accreditation to see these events and report.
Film and TV have long taken sponsorship to include their clothes and accessories as an effort to promote their brand and strengthen the awareness of their products. With VR, we could license the same thing in games or virtual experiences – for instance, if online dating is your thing, why not deck out your online avatar in the latest Alexander McQueen to show your potential love interest that you’re a lady of style and class. Or if you’re so inclined, deck out your badass zombie slayer in killer Sophia Webter stillettos so you can kerb stomp heads in style.
So, does virtual reality have a place within the fashion industry? Is virtual reality a technology we should be exploiting? Or should it remain in a corner with the Virtual Boy and its harvested eyeballs?
What do you think about virtual reality? Share with us in the comments below! Want to read more about tech in fashion? Read some of our previous posts here.
Written by guest blogger, Chris MacDonald – follow his work here.