Despite having committed to a stone in her home in Wales a year ago due to the pandemic, Jim Jenkins-Jones fulfilled the promise she made to her 10-year-old daughter of being able to see the aurora borealis in Iceland or South African reserves, but in virtual reality.
Jones confirmed that her daughter was astonished, describing these experiences as a “lifebuoy.”
The restrictions associated with the “Covid-19” epidemic have aroused increased interest in trips through virtual reality thanks to new applications that make it possible, and it requires only a few hundred dollars to purchase the necessary control unit to operate it, in addition to headphones.
And when the necessary equipment is available, everything becomes possible, such as a trip to Machu Picchu (in Peru), or to the tropical forests of Borneo, or even a “road trip” across the United States in an open car.
Data on VR travel is still limited, but manufacturers of the devices used for this purpose, such as the creator of the ARB Innovation Labs ARB Innovation Labs platform, Cesara Winderm, confirm that demand is growing exponentially.
“We constantly have more subscriptions every month,” he said.
Alcove allows users to visit exotic places such as coral reefs in Australia and the island of Malta, or to share a virtual experience with a family member who does not have the necessary technical skills.
“A lot of people decide to buy a helmet for their elderly family members,” Winderm notes. He pointed out that this «allows trips with them during the closure».
Others go out to play a game of chess with someone who lives anywhere in the world.
And virtual reality has become an alternative to traveling in the real world and a complement that allows planning future trips in light of the great blow that tourism has suffered from the epidemic.
From this standpoint, application developers created a set of specific experiences, including visiting the pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India, or the savannahs in Kenya or Antarctica by kayak, with the help of commercial travel companies or specialized organizations such as “National Geographic” and the “World Wild” fund. Live ». Users can choose Oculus devices from Facebook, PlayStation from Sony or Google Cardboards. Raphael Curtis, a San Antonio computer specialist, who uses Alcove and YouTube VR, said that since the start of the epidemic, he has traveled every week “comfortable at home”.
“I went to London, the Glass Bridge in China, Angel Falls in Venezuela, and the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, and I flew by helicopter over New York,” he added.
Amy Reddt, who lives in Portland, Oregon, is also “wandering” around her sister town of Wallingford in England.
Amy runs a Facebook group for virtual reality users, and asserts that the virtual “travel experiences” she knew were very realistic.
A constant trend
And still the most popular apps, at the moment, are those in the games and fiction worlds.
Avi Greengart, an analyst at the company, “Xponinenchel”, said that traveling through virtual reality deprives the tourist of sensory experiences, such as eating the food of the country he is visiting, and “the opportunity to meet residents as well.” But, on the other hand, a hypothetical tourist can enjoy a museum alone, for example, and this is “impossible in the physical world,” he said.
Raphael Curtis: “I went to London, the Glass Bridge in China, Angel Falls in Venezuela, and the city of Petra, and I flew by helicopter over New York.”
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