Arts & Culture
11:25 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Virtual Reality Enters The Mainstream

Virtual reality isn’t just going to be for high-tech video gamers anymore.

If you’re not familiar with virtual reality, it’s a computer simulation of a 3D environment that you can experience using a headset.

WJCT's Michaela Gugliotta spoke with two Jacksonville locals who have been involved with virtual reality since the 90's, and are excited for it's future.

Credit Courtesy of Nathan Thorin

Virtual Reality Enters The Mainstream - Michaela Gugliotta

“You can look down, you can look up, side to side.” software developer Jason Joslyn said, describing a typical virtual reality experience.

"You have a 3D image that completely surrounds you and it tracks the direction of your gaze as quickly as possible, so that as you move your head around you are completely immersed in what appears to be a 3D world.”

Joslyn is a Jacksonville native who has worked in virtual reality since its beginning stages 20 years ago.

He’s seen the platform’s accessories evolve from expensive helmets to the current Oculus Rift headset that immerses users into the virtual reality experience. Facebook recently bought the technology for $2 billion.

WATCH: Jason Joslyn discusses the history of virtual reality and demonstrates old virtual reality headsets

Smart phones, tablets, computers and social networks create a kind of virtual reality where we can escape the one we know.

“I think almost like in the movie Her," Joslyn said. "People are already so sucked in to their operating systems, and their devices and screens, that there is already this phenomenon and fascination with the world delivered through these technologies.”

Credit Courtesy of Nathan Thorin

As virtual reality goes mainstream, Joslyn’s company Eyeverb will create digital worlds for use with the Oculus Rift.

“Specifically one of the first projects is called TimesTourism.net, and I’m creating historical reconstructions of a site like the fort in St. Augustine through different time periods to put you in the presence of the past,” Joslyn said.

Another virtual reality expert, Nathan Thorin, art director of Wisconsin-based web magazine GalaticaVision, met Joslyn in the 1990's and bonded over their mutual interest.

Thorin currently tests the Oculus Rift developer kit on people at night clubs and college campuses. He hopes to team up with Joslyn in the future.

Thorin thinks once Oculus is commercially available a lot of industries will benefit from it.

“Architecture rendering is obvious, so you can do walkthroughs of spaces that aren’t created yet to make sure you’re getting it right," he said. "Medical, of course, willl have to be very precise. Even the idea of traveling to other places is coming up a lot already.”

The Oculus Rift will be commercially released next year. Soon you’ll be able to put on the headset and dive into a virtual world of your choice.

You can follow WJCT on Twitter @WJCTJax.