Matt Webb, virtual reality critic

Thursday 21st April, 2022 - Bruce Sterling



Given all that, here’s what made me gasp on day 1 and what I’m still thinking about.

  1. Peeping through passthrough. The way it works is that you “draw” (in VR) a box on the floor. Within that box, you are immersed in 3D virtual reality. Near the edge, you see the box around you outlined as a grid. As you touch the edge, a hole appears… you can poke your head through, and you see the real world beyond, in black and white fuzzy passthrough. I found myself leaning out to have a chat or to grab a drink. Delightful.
  2. A Godzilla’s eye’s view. Playing mini golf, I found a button that let me zoom out. Suddenly I was standing in the middle of this golf course arranged on a mountain, the mountain halfway up my chest. Walking just a foot or two, and bending down, and leaning close, I could examine bridges and trees and caves and courses. An incredible, examinable overview, in a way that would take multiple steps on any other device.
  3. Height, space, and scale. In the first room of Anne Frank’s house, there’s a steep staircase leading down, but it’s inaccessible from the tour. However I was able to kneel down, put my head through the bannisters, and peer over the edge, down the stairwell, and into the next room. I know this is what VR is all about, but the sense of being located continues to astound. What do we do now the gamut of interaction can include vertigo and awe? It’s like suddenly being given an extra colour….