Sorry, all you Trinity and Molly Millions wannabes, but we have good news, bad news for the future of virtual reality. The next “baby step” toward the cyberpunk dream of wetware is launching this week. Unfortunately, it involves no steps at all but lots of sitting, apparently.
At least, that’s the verdict from the New York Times review of the Sony Playstation VR headset, which hit shelves on October 13. It’s one of the latest VR options for gamers out in the wild, and while it promises to integrate nicely with the Playstation 4, it is designed to be used while the user is seated or standing in place but not walking. And as TechRadar points out, the Playstation VR, while affordable, does a “poor job of sealing out light” and offers “spotty” motion control.
In other words, immersive VR isn’t truly immersive yet. And it may take a long time to become so.
“The experience of being a Dark Knight who is unable to walk underscores the limits of virtual reality,” writes Times reviewer Brian X. Chen. He raises an interesting point for future VR developers as well as those who dream of walking through the streets flesh-wired to software that shows us messages in the air in front of our eyeballs. Is the cyberpunk world of immersive VR that you can take with you wherever you go even possible?
Of course, the dream is a powerful one. And companies like Playstation, HTC and Oculus (which plans to release its new Touch motion controllers in December) are working hard to bring the Matrix to fruition IRL.
Still, living la vida Neuromancer — wet-wired and mobile and skilled like a ninja — just got both a little bit closer and a little bit further away at the same time. If you long to be Johnny Mnemonic, you’ve got a long wait. But if your idea of the future is Ready Player One, in which couch potato VR is the norm, then the future really is now.