Virtual Reality May Become The Next Great Media Platform But Can it Fool all Five Senses?

Jason Silva calls technologies of media “engines of empathy.” They allow us to look through someone else’s eyes, experience someone else’s story, and develop a sense of compassion and understanding for them, and perhaps for others more generally.
But he says, while today cinema is the “the cathedral of communication technology,” looking to the future, there is another great medium looming, virtual reality. Expanding on the possibilities embodied in the Oculus Rift, Silva envisions a future when we inhabit not virtual realities but “real virtualities.” A time when we discard today’s blunt tools of communication to cloak ourselves in thought and dreams.
It’s an electrifying vision of the future, one many science fiction fans have imagined. At present, we’re nowhere near the full digital duplication and manipulation of reality Silva describes. But if we don’t dream a thing, it’ll never come to pass.
Sometimes we can see the long potential of tech and are awed by it, even though we don’t know how to make it happen yet. All new technologies begin in the mind’s eye like this. “We live in condensations of our imagination,” Terence McKenna says.
Realization can take years; the engineering process can fizzle and reignite, go through a roller coaster of inflated expectations and extreme disillusion. Eventually, we get close enough to the dream to call it a sibling, if not an identical twin.
So, what will it take to get to Silva’s real virtuality? Let’s take a (brief) stroll through the five senses and see how close we are to digitally fooling them.
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