One of the key elements of the research at our lab at NYU is that people in virtual worlds should spend time together. And not just virtually together — physically together.

We see such experiences as being just one more extension of what people do best: Hanging out with each other. We suspect that the current focus on single person VR experiences is mainly due to temporary limitations of the technology.

Which made it especially odd to take a walk around the VR exhibition space at the SXSW conference today. There were many VR products on display, and in every one of them you could see people in a in a headset all by themselves, not interacting with other people — or even able to perceive other people in the room with them.

I was with someone who is not from the VR community. She found it very eerie to see all of these people lost in a VR world, disconnected from the people around them. And those people were being stared at by other people who had no idea what the person in VR was experiencing.

My friend said to me afterward that it was all very unnerving to behold, and that it seemed to make television look good by comparison.

That inspired me. So here’s my proposed new slogan for single-person VR:

“Virtual reality: We make television look good.”

I’m not sure this slogan will catch on within the industry. Note that none of this is a problem if one sees single-user VR for what it is: an important transition technology, the modern equivalent of the Kinetoscope.

6 Responses to “Slogan”

  1. sally says:

    Two things:

    1) we have a paper on Social AR which probably is useful for VR:



    2) Yes. Social. All this stuff is, is about people and their relationships. That is why anthropology is useful in this research. Knowing about group behavior, group social behavior, the theory of it, the ways it manifests, how cooperation evolves, all super useful to labs working on VR… just sayin’…

  2. admin says:

    Good paper — thanks for the link.

    I am surprised that you say “Yes. Social. All this stuff is, is about people and their relationships” as though that’s not self-evident. It’s a little like saying “Hey, this gravity thing, it goes downward!” :-)

    I am surprised your paper didn’t mention our Holojam work. It’s been out there and experienced by large numbers of people since 2015, and it is directly relevant.

  3. sally says:

    I’ll just comment in order here…

    1) Thanks. Glad you like the paper

    2) I do say “Yes. Social” because mostly when I am confronted with the Computer Scientists building this stuff, they don’t seem to think that people who spend time studying social relations are relevant to what they are building. :-)

    3) Our paper didn’t mention your Holojam work for a couple of reasons: A) Had no clue about it in Oct. 2014 when we submitted, and B) we didn’t look at VR for this paper. VR is mentioned once, in reference to castAR’s shared social AR with VR.

    From what I can tell, Holojam is immersive shared VR. Our paper was to document shared sociability in Augmented Reality experiences, and to describe ways of blending experiences in AR between real and virtual (it is all in one reality, but distinguishing between network and not for sake of a clearer explanation).

    We didn’t discuss VR at all in our paper, focusing only in non-immersive AR, with a particular point that most AR is not inherently social, and it could be.

    Likely, if we had expanded background to include other shared environments from a social aspect, we would have been remiss not including it, if something had been published on it by Oct. 2014, but since we were focused on AR, it wasn’t in our sights.

    Good to know about it now, though. Thanks!

  4. admin says:

    1) I avidly read your excellent paper partly because it is directly relevant to our own work. Holojam is not about VR. It is about the future of socially shared mixed reality. Our research focuses pretty much entirely on people socially interacting with each other in the same physical room, in their own bodies, with altered visual perception.

    That distinguishes our work from some of your work in PoSR, in which you also explore interesting ways that people socially interact in ways that are separate from their physical bodies (which it is also important for us to know about — I am glad your work is out there for us to study). In a way, our research questions are a subset of yours, since ours is more bound by traditional issues of proximity, head gaze and physical contact + physical tool sharing.

    2) There is no monolithic bloc called “computer scientists”. If you were to try to discuss the sociology film with someone who makes Arriflex cameras, you might get a blank look, whereas I suspect Michael Apted would eagerly discuss that topic with you.

    3) I am sorry you were not permitted to revise the paper after it was submitted in Oct 2014, to include emerging relevant work. That is a shame. It is still a very strong paper, and I’m glad it is out there for me to refer my collaborators and students to.

  5. sally says:

    1) Thank you again

    2) I know.

    3) When did your Holojam paper come out? LIke I said, unaware of it in Oct. 2014, but happy to know about it now.

  6. sally says:

    ALso, what this points to is that if we are converging, we could consider writing something together…

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