LIVE VIRTUAL REALITY IS NOT READY FOR THE MARKET
(P1) Ah, virtual reality. Put your smartphone inside a pair of goggles, strap them to your head, and — PRESTO! — you’re transported to a computer-generated world, whether it’s a starship or a Sherpa village in the Himalayas. At least, that’s the promise of VR games and films.
(P2) But what about live VR streaming, which is being made available in your living room or anywhere else you happen to have your goggles? Some companies are already testing this technology, and it won’t be long before you’ll have to pay a PREMIUM PRICE to receive these streams.
(P3) At the CES conference in Las Vegas, I had a chance to find out what it’s like. After strapping a Samsung Gear VR headset to my face, I was transported to a courtside seat at the United Center in Chicago to watch a basketball game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.
(P4) At least, that’s what I think I was watching. The video was so BLURRY I couldn’t see players’ jersey numbers, find a scoreboard, or read the shot clock. I was also lost without TV commentators and graphics to help me understand what was happening. I watched the game from the best seat in the stadium, but after 20 minutes I realized I didn’t enjoy it at all.
(P5) The episode demonstrated VR’s SHORTCOMINGS. When the technology works well, it makes you feel as if you’re standing in front of a DINOSAUR. Or it gives you VERTIGO as you look over the edge of a SKYSCRAPER. When it doesn’t work well, though, you’re just annoyed and confused.
(P6) David Cole, co-founder of NextVR, which streamed the game, admitted a few problems still have to be worked out. He also said he’s not out to create a highly produced TV stream in VR, with rich graphics and shot-by-shot commentary. He wants to make you feel like you’re there.
(P7) “It will be a huge value for fans,” he said. People who love sports and wish they had a great seat at a game will love it, he added.
(P8) I’m one of those people who would probably be bored sitting courtside at a real game anyway, since I’m not an AVID basketball fan.
(P9) Despite criticism about poor visuals, NextVR, of Laguna Beach, California, is pushing ahead with plans to build a near-daily channel of live events, all streamed to VR headsets. In the next few months, the company plans to insert ads into its streams and test charging for admittance. Cole wouldn’t say how much the service will cost.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Are you very interested in virtual reality, or not so much?
- Are 3D movies, video games, and other forms of ENHANCED visuals pleasing to you, or do they give you headaches?
- Why do companies bring technologies to market before they are ready?
- Do you feel that you are spending too much money on technology now, or are you willing to pay more?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Premium price