Last week’s blog on the history of movies filmed in Colorado got me thinking about the evolution of television: how we went from theater and plays, to black and white silent shows, to full blown color and sound effects. Now, we have entered a new era of virtual reality and augmented reality, whereupon putting on some over-sized goggles allows us to be fully immersed in a movie or game, becoming actively part of the films we used to passively watch.

How VR works

Virtual Reality’s goal is total immersion—to trick your brain into believing that what you are seeing is real. Different platforms have different mechanisms, but most, like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, operate by using a stereotypic display. This works by displaying two slightly different angles of the same scene to each respective eye. This helps to create depth, which along with the graphics and shading involved, illicits a 3-D, almost life-like experience. Another important component includes how fast your headset displays images. FPS (or frames per second) relates to how fast your device can display images. How fast your device can refresh images is based on unit hertz, and should be the same number and output as the FPS, otherwise disorientation can occur. In addition, the devices can usually track your head movements, arm movements, etc, making the experience that much more life-like. Head-tracking works by using a system called 6DoF (six degrees of freedom), which plots your head in terms of your X, Y and Z axis to measure movements forward and backwards, side to side and shoulder to shoulder, otherwise known as pitch, yaw and roll.

In the Community

Boulder itself, has some history and current enterprises with virtual reality. Reality Garage is a start-up on Pearl Street investing in VR technology and allows people to come in (by walk-in or appointment) and try their headset. Last week I went in and tried their VR Gear Goggles, which connects with google earth and allows you to fly anywhere in the world. You can travel to Manhattan, Glacier, peaks in Washington. It’s a pretty thrilling experience, a bit terrifying at first– it’s something to get used t0–flying above skyscrapers, but after a little deep breathing it starts to be more comfortable, and the experience is truly a unique one. The people involved at the Reality Garage enterprise are also extremely nice and helpful, and I highly recommend a visit.

If you’re interested in getting involved in VR, there will be a start-up convention in Boulder in May, and a variety of Meet-Ups occur regularly where members meet to listen to talks about the future of technology in VR, story-telling in VR, and other tech talks. Boulder is a great place to be for new innovations and inspiring feats of intellect, why not get involved?

Theresa Duncan is primarily a student of writing and lover of literature, currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, England. She has previously worked for Ocean Magazine and the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, and enjoys learning about the esoteric eccentricities of every town she visits. She loves books of all kinds, climbing and bouldering around Colorado, and drinking a jag of Pimms with her tutors when she’s in England. She has a BA from California Lutheran University in English and hopes to eventually pursue a Ph.D in Literature.