By Jamie Li
June 6, 2022
UPDATED 12:00 PM EST
In 2045, Earth is on the brink of collapse, and people find respite in the virtual reality world called The Oasis. The film Ready Player One, adapted from a book written by Ernest Cline in 2011, displays incredible technology involving virtual reality. How close are we to achieving the virtual reality pictured in Ready Player One? Well, still pretty far―but closer than you may think.
The Oculus Quest 2 [Credit: Rolling Stones]
First of all, one of the most critical parts of the technology with virtual reality is the headset. In the movie, the headset is lightweight, wireless, and lacking external hardware. It can be used whenever and wherever to enter The Oasis. Even though the majority of headsets are wired to a gaming PC, many headsets are wireless, such as the Oculus Quest 2. The direction that headsets are going in appears to be lighter and wireless. Although the quality of immersion may not compare yet to Ready Player One, some headsets are quite similar.
HaptX Gloves DK2 [Credit: Haptx]
Next, in Ready Player One, people use gloves to interact with the virtual reality world and touch virtual objects. In the real world, there is a plethora of technology to allow people to feel things within the virtual world, though they are a lot less streamlined than the ones in Ready Player One. For example, HaptX Gloves DK2 have 130 points of tactile feedback on each hand and can apply up to 40 pounds of force per hand. While the gloves are certainly impressive, they are still much bulkier than the ones in Ready Player One. Meta, formally Facebook, has a haptic glove prototype, which is in soft robotics, as it replaces motors with small air valves. By doing so, the gloves are more streamlined. However, haptic gloves that are as unobtrusive as the film are not yet a reality.
Ready Player One features a gigantic online universe called the Oasis where people hang out, play games, and compete in a quest. While the sensory aspects of virtual reality are not caught up to Ready Player One, there is already a vibrant virtual community. This aspect of Ready Player One is probably the least futuristic as online communities have been around since the beginning of the internet. For virtual worlds, people can customize their avatar and enter VRChat, which is probably the largest virtual world people can interact with one another. In VRchat, users can create their world, customize their avatar and talk to people from all over the world.
Virtual reality in Ready Player One is not as far off as you may think, there are already headsets and a community that can compare, while gloves and sensory feedback that can match are soon to come. Ready Player One and other sci-fi novels let us see where technology is today and where it can possibly go in the future.
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