Oculus creator: "If you can perfectly simulate reality, why do you need to actually go see people in real life?"

Palmer Luckey says VR needs to incorporate touch-based feedback to further the feeling of immersion and wonders if some day we'll think it's wasteful to actually get on a plane to meet people in the real world.

Virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift must expand beyond visuals and allow for touch-based human-to-human interaction, creator Palmer Luckey said in a new interview from PAX East in Boston, Mass. All of this is in the way of creative a fully immersive experience that makes you feel like you're really in a "virtual reality," Luckey said.

"[Virtual reality], it can't just be a visual thing. If VR remains a visual only thing, then certainly we'll never replace human touch-based interactions," Luckey said in a group interview captured by Maximum PC. "But for many interactions, it could."

Luckey went on to say that over time, virtual reality technology can become so advanced that you won't be able to tell what is "real" and what is not.

"How do I know you're real," Luckey said to the interviewer. "You're just standing there. You could be a hologram. But we're still having a meaningful interaction. At some point it could even be [considered to be] irresponsible to waste the resources to...why did you need to get on a plane and burn all of that fuel to ship yourself over when you could have just hopped in your VR headset?"

"I guess you will have to ask yourself, 'Why do we care if we're physically isolated if we're mentally connected?' If you can perfectly simulate reality, why do you need to actually go see people in real life?"

The interviewer also asked Luckey about the potential for virtual reality technologies like Oculus Rift to make people feel isolated, staying in their homes instead of going outside. He didn't have much of an answer for this concern, but said people won't care much if virtual reality tech can become so advanced that the line between fantasy and reality is indistinguishable.

"Physically isolated, maybe. But I don't think socially isolated. If anything, I think VR is one of the most potentially connecting technologies we have out there," Luckey said. "I guess you will have to ask yourself, 'Why do we care if we're physically isolated if we're mentally connected?' If you can perfectly simulate reality, why do you need to actually go see people in real life?"

Many people gather together with friends and family to watch movies or a sports match. If you're all wearing headsets, will that sense of togetherness be lost? Perhaps physically, Luckey said, but again, it won't matter if virtual reality can sell the illusion strong enough, he says.

"Eventually, VR is going to be good enough some day [where it's] as good or close to as good as real life. And if you want to simulate sitting in a room watching a TV, you'll be able to do that," Luckey said. "How good is has to be for someone to accept it, that's a different level for each person. But we'll get there eventually."

Luckey added virtual reality technology is going to lead to the eradication of traditional TV and monitor displays over the next 10-20 years. You'd need hundreds of screens to be able to simulate the experience VR can achieve, Luckey said. Simply put, Luckey believes virtual reality will be cheaper and more useful.

"I think there's almost no way that traditional displays will be around in a couple decades because it just won't be feasible," he said. "Why in the world would you buy a 60" TV that even if it were dirt cheap, for that, it's still going to cost a lot to ship it and make it from raw materials. A VR headset is going to be much better and much cheaper and you can take it anywhere."

Finally, Luckey said virtual reality still has a lot of growing to do to reach its full potential. "It's not where we need it to be to be really mass-market," Luckey said. It is good enough, however, so that people are beginning to understand its potential, he said.

Social networking giant Facebook believes in the future for VR, announcing last month that it had acquired Oculus VR, making of Oculus Rift, in a surprise deal worth around $2 billion.

What do you make of Luckey's comments? Is human-to-human interaction going to become a thing of the past?

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
See more coverage of PAX East 2014

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

750 comments
bloodreaver728
bloodreaver728

This article reminded me heavily of Sword Art: Online...As an avid gamer and a fan of anime/manga, I'm gonna pass on this one. Nice try, Kayaba.

truesaidtheliar
truesaidtheliar

VR has the potential to be great for entertainment and a number of other applications, but Luckey is vastly underestimating the complexity and volume of information that human body is taking in and the human brain processing on a constant basis, there's just not going to be any method short of direct neural interface that can simulate that. Further, the amount of processing power it would take to process that level of information would likely consume MORE power than it would actually take to go out and do whatever activity is being simulated.

rajlexseawell
rajlexseawell

post-VR world: many cease reproductive and occupational pursuits. Real life can't match the perfection of VR, so suddenly you're husband isn't as great, your job is uninteresting, your wife is dull and doesn't get you, and the recreational drugs you use on the weekends are suddenly too much of a hassle and not as good as the VR touch-based feedback/ biochemical induction high.


VR replaces public institutions of education. What better way to become an engineer, doctor, soldier than through first-hand VR simulation, without real risk. But no one cares because they are too busy getting the best oral pleasure from the hottest human ever while mainlining some perfect VR drug, simultaneously being told by our mother, father, and high school crush that we are the most amazing human they ever knew, and they couldn't be more proud or loving towards us.


VR becomes a psychiatric miracle treatment. We are able to craft ideal situations for repairing all past psychological wounding, and are able to bring people to enlightenment through a well-designed 'lesson plan' in which all moral, spiritual, philosophical, and practical matters are 'taught' through VR/ virtual bio-chem induction and neural repetition. 


Free will is lost and cyber 'neuro-hackers' enter our nervous system and essentially 'brain/body-wash' us until we think and feel whatever they want. Human nature is neutralized and those who write VR/ neural-induction code become rulers.

cody1o3
cody1o3

seriously? not a single person has mentioned SAO(sword art online).... seriously? anyone? 

Vittorio877
Vittorio877

Luckey is right, and I can go further in the future and teel you VR is the future of all mankind. Why? Because the phyisical world is very limitated, the virtual world is on the other hand is "much less limitated". Our physical world is limitated, just think about the space we have. We have what remains from the earth, the moon, mars, and perhaps pluto (that would be a challange to ozonize). But then what? Its impossible for the human to travel thousand light years to get more space. In VR however, we could travel those distances within a second.

When virtual world emulates reality perfectly (this will take a lot of time, because the information needed is tremendous) the human won't have any reason to stay in the physical world. But before that, little by little humans will live in this two realities, the physical one, and the virtual one.  Supported by machines we won't have to disconnect anymore, and in time won't even even need our bodies. Now we are seeing the evolution of plastic organs, if you have one that doesn't work properly you can have it replaced with one of plastic. The same happens with the brain. All we will be are chips. With the resources of the physical earth we'll be able to make billions of planets to live. Many people underestimate AI, but thats what we are now, and thats what we'll become.


harold317
harold317

Only forever alones would ever think of replacing actual human interaction with a VR headset. If you actually agree with that, it's time to stop running away from your shitty reality, man up, and do something about it. Then again, this sounds like they're promising more than what they can actually deliver, which seems to be a pretty common trend in electronics today...tech like this can only succeed if it's priced $200 or less, and it doesn't seem like it will be the case.

deasvail144
deasvail144

I maybe paranoid and I admit I probably am, but I don't trust VR. I will never have a VR headset! ha

niccodemarini
niccodemarini

This is a great idea. Especially if all you can see when you put the VR set on is the screen and it looks like your actually their. Real virtual reality like the lawn mower man and all that is way off in the future. And I would hate to see what a hacker could do to some one in a virtual reality as powerful as something that is completely immersive with touch and smell and everything where you could easily forget it is not reality.

 Anyways all that horrifying VR world people are imagining from weird movies is way off in the future. If the technology in these things in the future get up to 4k resolution it could be pretty damn insane. Lol this does kind of remind me of that weird Nintendo thing you would put over your eyes a long time ago and see the game through it. But on steroids.

ngh128
ngh128

"Virtual reality" = 2 words which means.  In virtual, we do things which we can't do in reality and vice versa.  In about 5-10 years, I think VR will be forgotten and replaced by holograms.  Also, google glasses will stay for years to come.

worksap
worksap

That sounds horrible but....I wouldl ove to put a headset on and walk down streets of like, foreign countries, get to explore without beign there....that would be neat.

hammerfall22
hammerfall22

Make a Occulus Rift.... I mean, 3d vision, with sensors for the head moviment, etc...  is one thing. Make a "touch-based feed back" is another... there is a really big step there. 

chechak7
chechak7

do you need to actually go see people in real life?

what ...?

GOD help us from future 

czogby2
czogby2

"Luckey added virtual reality technology is going to lead to the eradication of traditional TV"
I highly doubt that.  People like the experience of sitting next to each other on a couch or in a movie theater and watching the same thing while being able to occasionally look at each other and do other things.  I'm sure VR will become a big thing, but it will co-exist with TV and movies.

Psycold
Psycold

I think Palmer is a genius and all but sometimes he goes a little overboard with his "V.R.will rule the world" comments. 

RevLux
RevLux

Sounds like Luckey wants a sex bot...

Falru
Falru

The moment VR becomes as good as reality is when Earth's population dies out cuz who wants to deal with the real world when you could have virtual waifus.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

"Why in the world would you buy a 60" TV that even if it were dirt cheap, for that, it's still going to cost a lot to ship it and make it from raw materials. A VR headset is going to be much better and much cheaper and you can take it anywhere."


And in this amazing world where Luckey lives, we all get along, there is no war, and there is no competition in retail...........


moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

I love how these people never think of the simple practicalities. If all your senses are being flooded by VR what happens if a burglar breaks into your house - you won't even know hes there until he's packed all your valuables into a van and finally smashes you over the head so he can take that expensive VR set off you too. Or how about a fire which you don't smell because your airways are already being fed the sweet smell of virtual fresh air. These aren't exactly uncommon scenarios but VR's biggest proponents just don't even give them a thought.

greaseman1985
greaseman1985

That's exactly what a nerd with no life would say.

tchanah
tchanah

And it all started like that......

WolfgarTheQuiet
WolfgarTheQuiet

Fuck that, i want to go outdoors and meet with people. Is this what their new boss facebook is filling thier heads with, see i told you they would start with this socializing bullshit.

Overlord93
Overlord93

What about the brain in a vat theory? What if we're actually in VR right now but we've forgotten and can't tell the difference. What if we enter a VR world within this VR world and the process repeats?

Besides, why would anyone want to simulate the real world?  You're capable of creating impossible universes and fantasy worlds and you would choose to sit in a virtual living room talking to people you want nothing to do with?

tightwad34
tightwad34

Uh, technology has already stopped some of us from face to face interactions. Why do you think we are here posting comments?

West123
West123

do you people really think he believes anything he is saying?? or is it more like FOX news they tell you what to say and you say it....

Dark_Rage
Dark_Rage

Wow, what a shallow person.


I mean how shallow can the creater of Oculus get?.

grove67
grove67

how do you have sex using this thing


SmawRpg
SmawRpg

@Vittorio877 Some good ideas here definitely, and while i agree on most of what you said, I don't think we will "become chips", i think that when we die or lose our body, our consciousness still will exist, but perhaps not on physical level, but more like a dream. but one that you are fully immersed and perceive as your "new reality". I honestly would rather die then become a chip as a chip is still physical and I would rather disconnect from all physicality after my human experience.

SmawRpg
SmawRpg

@harold317 I love arrogance like this, it is one reason i spend so much time in a VR. It seems like lately so many people judge others to validate their own existances. It is rather discouraging. That said, I try my hardest to keep personal relations with people, but it is a constant challenge.

AceJakk
AceJakk

@harold317 There's a lot I'd try in a virtual world that I'd never try in real life.  This isn't about forever alone.

NikoKun
NikoKun

@harold317 Well, they plan to sell it at cost, so yea, it could be $200, although I think $250 is more likely. It's cheaper than a high-end gaming monitor or a good TV.

And quite frankly, it DOES deliver the promise. When people think VR, they think of being teleported to a world inside the computer, thanks to science fiction.. But now, unlike VR in the past, we finally have hardware which is fast and accurate enough that it can provide "presence", the feeling you get when your brain is completely tricked into thinking the reality it's seeing is real. It's so strong, you have to constantly remind yourself it's not real. That's the sort of VR they're aiming for when this thing comes to the consumer market.

NikoKun
NikoKun

@ngh128 What?  Google Glass will most likely evolve into something else sooner or later. It's present form is stupid, and unpopular, but eventually they'll figure out how to make wearable tech like that more popular.

However, VR, in various forms, is here to stay.. It took a long time to finally get VR working right, but now that it does, it's the final frontier, the final platform. It might eventually add Augmented Reality to it's features, but VR is the core.

Watch one of the talks michael abrash gives about VR.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

@czogby2 TV's going nowhere.  It survived the fucking INTERNET, it'll survive VR.

golemoy
golemoy

@Falru i can already see dildos and fleshlights bundled with VR sets

rajlexseawell
rajlexseawell

@moonlightwolf01 burglar is too busy having VR/ touch-based feedback sex w/ multiple physically/ emotionally ideal women or men, can experience everything that stolen money could buy thru VR.

RevLux
RevLux

@moonlightwolf01  Yep, someone to instill fear of the improbable. That's what was missing from this discussion.

NikoKun
NikoKun

@moonlightwolf01Because that's not going to be a common occurrence AT ALL, and it's silly/paranoid to think it would.

And besides, people are just vulnerable and oblivious to the world around them, every night for 8 hours while they sleep. It's much easier for a burglar to target a time when you're sleeping, or better yet not even home, rather than trying to figure out who uses VR, and when. 

NikoKun
NikoKun

@greaseman1985 Says another person sitting at a computer screen, posting comments on a gaming-related site.

When VR is good enough, and common enough, it will just become another tool we use to socialize. Like the Smart Phone, Facebook, Texting, and webcam chats. They're just tools people use.

VR will be no different. It seems like a nerdy thing now, but this is the start of VR becoming easy, cheap, and popular enough, to be the next tool people will use to socialize.

RevLux
RevLux

@WolfgarTheQuiet  Obviously we will still meet people in person when/if this tech takes off. Though the potential is there to socialize with people on the other side of the planet in a quasi face to face meeting in a virtual world of your choosing.


I'm seriously saddened by the lack of imagination so many posters seem to possess here. It's not like V.R. would prevent you from going outside and talking with people. The beauty of the tech, as far as it's potential for socializing goes, is for all the people that you know that would be impossible for you to walk out your front door and physically interact with on a daily basis. It would essentially give you the next best thing to a physical encounter.


It may even be the preferred method, at times, for some people due to all the things you could do together in virtual reality that would be impossible in the real world. Like virtually smoking in a restaurant...

NikoKun
NikoKun

@WolfgarTheQuiet VR has always been about socializing. Read any scifi book about VR, even the ones written in the 80s, social interactions have always been an important aspect of the idea of VR.

Doesn't mean VR wont be used for hardcore gaming too, it can be used for lots of things.

NikoKun
NikoKun

@Dark_Rage How is what he said in any way "shallow"?

It's a relatively reasonable prediction of the future. ONCE VR is good enough. And that's the BIG prerequisite, the VR HAS to be relatively perfect, which wont happen for a while.

Once VR is good enough tho, it makes total sense that people may end up seeing their friends and family that live at a distance, in VR more often. It's far cheaper to meet-up/hang-out in a virtual world than spending the money to travel. Especially once the VR is a good enough experience. It will be just as moving, and feel just as meaningful, as any other method of socializing.

It has nothing to do with what we'd prefer. I think most of us WOULD rather meet up with our friends in real life.. But when VR becomes good enough, and common enough.. Naturally it will be a tool that people use.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@grove67 LOL. The question 95% of males who get this thing want to know. And I imagine 10% of females, or so. It would be higher for females, but you can't talk to it before or after.

LucentWolf
LucentWolf

@NikoKun I feel VR is definitely the future. It will be improved upon over the years into something very neat. We've been gaming for too many years on the same 2D screens. This offers something completely different than what we've had.


I have to disagree on the holograms though. They would be limited by the physical space you have available to you. VR however is potentially infinite. If the just the right type of device interface was created that allowed you to control a game say with your brain? I know that's fairly out there, but not entirely impossible, the tech already exists. Some seriously cool stuff is just around the corner.

fire_eagle2
fire_eagle2

@NikoKun I think VR will still be more like a closed, 'personal' experience unless someone puts an external camera on it. Glass, in its actual form, looks like a sketchy HUD. Both may converge... who knows what such mix may bring?

weaselfodder
weaselfodder

@YukoAsho @czogby2 TV is dying just slowly, notice Netflix has its own series. Cable/TV providers will eventually become only internet service providers and will have their own versions of "Netflix" where they will charge you a la carte per "web-based" channel subscription. It will take quite a while but it will happen. Notice how popular smart TVs are. Those are just monitors with a low level computer interface installed. Say goodbye to the TV as you know it because it won't be around forever.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

@NikoKun To each their own. My wife knows that if I get a new game, and have a day off, the entire house could be burning down and I'm not going to notice unless I get hungry, or have to go to the head.

lilflipp
lilflipp

@NikoKun @greaseman1985Far from it. It's not fast or efficient enough. I gotta put my headset every time I want to socialize. Phones, webcams, etc > VR headset


Sure there is potential with this but it isn't what people advertise it to be. WAY too much over hype.

It's a screen strapped to your head with positional head tracking.


This is far from being the "virtual Reality" people talk about. It's not good or efficient enough to even be considered like a webcam or smart phone.


Imagine how retarded a convo between 2 people wearing the occulus would be like. No eye contact, just too people looking at each other through this screen and you can't even see the other persons face.


This is years behind what the hype makes it out to be.

RevLux
RevLux

@lilflipp @NikoKun @greaseman1985  Would it be easier to simply put the headset on and push a button or drive/fly/swim/skip/moonwalk to your friend's house for a "face to face" meeting?


Imagine how awesome it would be communicating with people across the world "face to face" in a V.R. setting like a Hawaiian beach, or the moon even.  You seem to be stuck with the impression that you would be sitting and talking with people in a virtual office around some stuffy virtual table when the possibilities are nearly limitless once the tech matures. (assuming it does of course)