Monday Musings: First Time VR-ers

Conferences ,Random Musings ,Virtual Reality
February 1, 2016

Welcome to Monday Musings! These are are shorter-form, note-like blog posts that I share that may or may not be related to VR/AR, but that I want to share some quick thoughts on, get some extra insight on, or share out quickly. Disclaimer: I’m running on just a bit too little sleep right now, so these thoughts may be a little more disjointed than usual.

This past weekend was the 2016 Bay Area ‘She’s Geeky’ conference, and to prepare for one of my favorite events of the year, I loaded up my backpack with my GearVR, Homido, and Wearality headsets and headed down to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View to see who else I could rope into the wonderful world of virtual reality.

I’ve written before about how everyone is an evangelist of VR technologies right now, and this weekend was no exception. There is something really amazing about being the person who introduces someone to the world of immersive tech, and seeing how someone’s understanding of what is possible through technology change before their eyes.

There is a pipeline problem with STEM fields – engaging students at early stages in new technologies is important for improving diversity, maximizing the talent pool, and enhancing innovation. VR is an incredibly powerful tool, and engaging new developers and future developers at this stage is critical.

When I see middle and high school students try on VR for the first time, something changes for them. They imagine a new world where technology is visual and their devices are more personal than ever. Smiles go on for days.

I had the opportunity to watch this revelation in action. I handed off my GearVR, loaded up with the Jurassic World app, to a young girl who had never tried VR before. She was skeptical.

Her face immediately lit up when she saw the napping dinosaur. Her hands went to her mouth as she laughed at the video when the dinosaur got close. She immediately asked what other apps that I had on hand, so I swapped to The Blu, where she watched giants swimming around her underwater. Within minutes, she downloading her own apps to use with my Wearality and asked me to bring the Homido the following day. I grinned throughout the whole event whenever I saw her trying out something new.

These are the people who are choosing specializations early on. They are the ones who are just making their decisions about what to study and where to focus their careers. Studies show that 73% of Generation Z shows an interest in virtual and augmented reality technologies, the highest percentage of any age group, and getting them interested in the promise of immersive technology is one of my favorite things to do as a VR evangelist.

As consumer devices land this year and more people show interest in the technology, please be kind to those just starting out. Encourage them to dive in. Encourage them to learn. Don’t be the person who thinks introductory content is below everyone, and that anyone trying to learn about VR now is simply jumping on a bandwagon. Be nice. Be willing to share. We’re in a great place to shape this industry – let’s make it big, and let’s make it great.

Image from She’s Geeky 2016 by Ms. SmittyB – Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

 

 

 

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