The 3D Experience

What you’re seeing:

Paul Rivot’s grandmother is 90 years old. She lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the advents of AM/FM radio, television, and the internet. In the above video, she tries out the extraordinarily powerful Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for the first time, and it is positively heartwarming.

Back in January, Glenn Derene described his own experience test-driving the headset:

With the goggles on my head, I was in a digital representation of a medieval village in the midst of a light snowfall. There were no rapid-fire guns or enemies to fight, just a highly detailed world to “walk” through. [Joseph Chen, the company’s senior product manager] encouraged me to look around and look up to see the snow falling down and the cathedral steeple rising up into the night sky. “Rotate your head and look behind you,” he said. I look in the direction of Chen’s voice and find nothing but a lonely street. A walk into the cloistered entryway of the cathedral felt claustrophobic, but a few steps more and the cathedral opened up to a sprawling interior with arched ceilings.

After a few minutes of this, Chen asked me to stand up, and I was struck by how difficult this task suddenly seemed. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll put my hand on your shoulder to make sure you don’t bump into anything.” He had me turn around and I could feel myself being guided through two different worlds at the same time: The real world, where Chen was making sure I didn’t bump my shins into my chair, and the virtual world, where I was looking through the falling snow at a bridge in the distance.

In March, Paul Waldman wondered if videogames will save future seniors from the despair of getting old:

Considering how much more complex, immersive, and graphically and narratively rich today’s games are compared to those of a few decades ago, just think what they’re going to be like 40 or 50 years from now. Frankly, by the time my ungrateful kids shunt me off to the home, I’m going to be pretty pissed if we don’t have full-on holodecks, where I can play a set against Roger Federer at Wimbledon, chat with Richard Feynman about the nature of the universe while sipping coffee at a Left Bank cafe, then blast some alien invaders, all in the same afternoon and with an almost perfect level of realism. And of course, in the holodeck I will be unburdened by my decaying meatsack, and will do all these wonderfully stimulating things while in the body of a particularly healthy 20-year-old. It’s almost enough to make you believe growing old won’t be so bad after all. Almost.