I never thought I’d have an adrenaline rush during a business trip to Berlin, Germany. But that’s exactly what happened in the most unexpected of places – Messe Berlin. There I was, minding my own business, when three opportunities appeared out of “nowhere”. One: escaping dragons. Two: bungee-jumping above an active volcano. Three: crossing a snowy mountain on a fragile, wooden bridge. Thank God it all happened in VR! #realitymagic
VR is still far from becoming mainstream, but that doesn’t take away from the thrill you have when you put a good headset on. At IFA Berlin, I had the chance to try three of the most surreal experiences someone can have in virtual reality.
The first one took me on the bottom of a cave, surrounded by dragons. One after one, they landed near me, breathing fire and watching their prey (=me) with hunger. The resolution on the Qualcomm VR 820 was so good, my heart skipped a beat. I bumped into a desk, too.
But that wasn’t all. As realistic as the demo was, I wasn’t about to leave the grounds without seeing what Samsung and ZTE had to offer.
HANGING OVER AN ACTIVE VOLCANO
Samsung’s Gear VR is old news by now but the show there was totally new. The idea was to do a sort of bungee-jump with the headset on. After signing an agreement that I don’t have any health issue that could put me in danger, I was led upstairs to attach all the straps and carabiners necessary. With the headset on, I was pushed and dropped a few feet from the audience below. In VR, I was hanging on for dear life as beneath me Mother Nature was showing off.
If the resolution would have been a tad better, I’d have really forgotten about the make-believe scene. As such, I wasn’t in any real danger and could have all the fun I wanted in those couple of seconds.
CROSSING A SNOWY MOUNTAIN
If the dragon adventure at Qualcomm was like a trip in GoT, the mountain crossing at ZTE was straight out of LOTR- The Pass of Caradhras (yeah, I’m a big LOTR nerd). It helped that ZTE had props like a real small bridge made out of wood and a powerful fan to recreate the winds in the northern regions.
As such, I really felt the cold, the blizzard’s teeth and the wood cracking under my feet. All the visitors could see what I was going through on a monitor, laughing all the while at my unsure steps.
Bottom line: Companies went above and beyond this year at IFA. Besides simple stands with products, they offered demos and mini-shows in arenas, as well as interactive experiences like the ones I mentioned here. Believe me, people were standing in huge lines to get a chance to try VR, a sign that consumers are more ready than ever to embrace this technology.