Immersive virtual reality and tourism: the kiss of death

Immersive virtual reality and tourism: the kiss of death

It will never be like the real thing. Even better than the real thing. Immersive virtual reality is going to change the way we visit a place. I know it will also bring some issues. Especially about computer addiction. My post emphasizes the role of VR to meet new people and create new markets, but VR might lead exactly to the opposite, people spending nearly all their time online, ignoring parents, friends, schoolwork, or jobs. Which is not different from what is happening now with the always-connected citizen / consumer. It will be more immersive, so more dangerous as the VR technology becomes cheaper. Some people will use VR to evade tough reality, some people will confuse real and virtual, but some will use it to improve their culture and the way they work. I cannot predict today how big those groups will be, but I hope for the best. And for sure my vision to 2030 will be surpassed by something else, like shared dreams, brain upload or similar innovations, so trust me, VR is just part of the evolution and will be old at some point.

Enjoy the 3 situations below and don’t forget to leave a comment and share your opinion.

Immersive Virtual Reality in 2020, 2025 and 2030

2020 My VR headset fits perfectly to my face. The Vatican Museums app is downloaded. Just tapped “start” on my temple and I’m below the incredible roof of the Sistine Chapel. I almost immediately lose track of real time and space and while sitting in my living room, I feel immersed in my short trip. The colors are astonishing, but my knowledge about art and history is limited, so I ask for an explanation of what I’m staring at. An external voice, like a movie storyteller, begins to describe me the Michelangelo’s scenes. I know it’s just like a recorded movie, but believe me, I would post a picture on Facebook if I just had the possibility to do it. I don’t know exactly how much time I spent there, but when it finish, a pop up reminds me the cheap prices of some Rome’s DVDs… which indeed I am not really interested in. Anyway, now I understand because this year, for the first time, virtual reality apps outperformed traditional mobile apps downloads: immersive virtual reality is like a candy for a child.

Immersive virtual reality and tourism: the kiss of death2025 I’m excited, today I can visit Rome. I just purchased the package Rome Sightseeing Top 100 and I select the Vatican Museums. The headset is incredibly light, I almost do not feel it. The great Sistine Chapel is all around me. So realistic that when I look down I can see my feet, or to be precise, the feet of my avatar. It is a nice representation of me, a handsome fantasy, but it is me in the end. I move below the scene of God touching the finger of the Man, the Creation of Adam. I am moving my fingers, simulating a walk and the VR engine moves my avatar and change my point of view accordingly. That stuff of capturing the gestures is a cool innovation. The avatar of my tourist guide silently comes close to me. Her image almost has photographic quality and, yes, the blonde lady I have chosen is definitely pretty. They managed to place augmented reality into already immersive virtual reality, so while I am watching the scenes I can point my finger to some points highlighted with a light blue halo and my guide starts to describe them. I turn my wrist 90 degrees and back and that is the pre-programmed command to take a picture. I hear my voice instructing “please post it in Pinterest, in my VR Journeys gallery and comment – beautiful Rome from my sofa”. After about half an hour I decide to quit and the screen in my glasses prompts me save advertising. Nothing great, but that discounted flight ticket to Rome, looks interesting, as the offer remains valid for a day and I can think about it.

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2030 Today I finally managed to connect my hi-tech contact lenses to the VR platform. I know there are not so many people out there having such an amazing technology yet, but I could not resist buying it. When I click “Go” the world around me disappears and I’m literally catapulted into an immersive virtual reality environment. I think about the Sistine Chapel in Rome and it immediately dawns around me. One month ago I found the courage to insert some nano-bots in my body. It’s minimally invasive and they told me there’s no risk they can damage my body when and if they will become useless. The bots migrated close to some of my brain cells and stay in a dormant status until I switch on the VR platform. At that point they suppress all of the inputs coming from the real senses and replace them with signals corresponding to the virtual environment. The only thing that scares me a bit is that somebody might eventually hack the platform and I’d be projected into the virtual world forever until I remove my lenses. That said, the reality (I admit it’s a strange word to use here…) is that it took me a while to learn how to use them, but now I can walk, move my body and even fly with just a bit of concentration. How many people have seen the finger of God touching Adam staying in the air a few centimeters from the paint? I can see the brush stroke.

When I “land” again a nice girl approaches me. She looks Asian, but I cannot recognize exactly her origin. Before I can call for a sneak a peak in her profile, she talks to me.

What’s your name Sir?

My name is Andrea and please don’t call me Sir, you make me feel old.

I’m Lien and I’m now in Vietnam.

How can I help you Lien?

I’ve seen from your profile that you’re Italian, have you ever visited the Chapel?

Oh yes I did, whit my wife, it must have been more or less 25 years ago.

Do you want to tell me about that?

I love this thing of meeting real people, with their real features in the VR places I’m visiting. It’s incredible for a man who chatted with irc 30 years ago… I spend another hour in a conversation with Lien, seated at the virtual cafeteria of the Vatican Museums. Although I concentrate on her, there’s always some advertising popping up in the air around me, the virtual world is very commercial.


I suggest additional interesting sources if you want to know more about VR

Which World Is Real? The Future of Virtual Reality

The State of Virtual Reality

Virtual journeying: short and long term perspectives


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