Good Wishes for Mindfulness, Healing and Joy!
With the season in full swing, I made last-minute plans to head to San Francisco where I stopped in to attend the Consciousness Hacking holiday party. It is awesome to see the growing community of biohackers, spiritualists, psychonauts, and technologists finding every excuse we can to collaborate and connect.
While at the event, I enjoyed sitting down to have a deep dive with the man himself, Mikey Siegel. We talked about the future of immersive transformative experiences and how his project Group Flow can move more into the mainstream. That’s why I continue to immerse myself in this convergence of mission-driven communities. We are all working towards the same goal of serving the planet, and the people on it, through entertainment and JOY.
Questions I have been pondering
What is the tipping point for VR? When will the industry finally be mature enough to create mass adoption? Is public fear a major factor?
We continue to see some amazing growth in the industry! Oculus Quest is selling out around the country and being dubbed one of the hottest purchases of Black Friday, and its cheaper companion, Oculus GO, is outselling all other consoles on Amazon during the same time period. Clearly things are changing.
The content is the first part of mass adoption — VR exclusive titles, large game franchises converting over to the platform, and general re-playability of novel experiences needs to grow, but those are not the only issues facing VR adoption. What I keep hearing about is public apprehension, not from the content or the price point, but from the safety concerns and general fear of anti-social behavior and disconnection from our “real world.” What is even more interesting is that these concerns do not seem to come from the older generation. My parents have fewer questions for me than my college friends do.
Let’s address some concerns people commonly express
Isn’t this going to make our already disconnected society even more closed off to each other?
Yes, as we increase our online connectivity we decrease our social lives in the real world. Similarly, as we increase our technology and realistic simulations of human interaction, we also increase the amount of time we spend with that technology. The progression of postal delivery, fax, email, IM, text, video calls, and social media have increased our screen time dramatically, but it has also increased our networks and ability to explore the planet. In turn, it allows us to be more world-centric, integrating more culture into our lives without sacrificing our work and family time.
With VR you can go into spaces like The Wave, Altspace VR, and the new Facebook Horizon to have the same facetime experience but with full body immersion, tactile haptics, and even walks in the park together. Where using your body language, vibrational touch, and 360 immersion, you can express more about your emotions than ever before. If we are already plugged in and communicating with each other 24/7, why not make it the best experience possible?
What about disconnecting from the “real” world — will we eventually just be floating embryos plugged into a virtual world AKA the matrix?
My argument is that we are already disconnected from the “real world” when we go see a play, a movie, dive into a new video game, or watch our favorite sporting event. This is just amplifying the entertainment we already use and love. The reason we dive into experiences the way we do is that we are obsessed with the alternative reality they provide. Amplifying these experiences is ultimately what we really want, the future as is stands is based around diving into stories, sports, and games on a higher level. Technology shouldn’t start to scare us until the very act of human acts like eating together, sharing a cup of tea, and making love start to feel more real inside the headset than outside of it.
Isn’t staring at a screen this close to your face bad for your eyes? Doesn’t moving your head in all directions causing nausea? Doesn’t sitting around all day with a headset on bad for our societies growing sedentary lifestyle and growing obesity epidemic?
I have done some preliminary research on eyes being close to TV screens. From what I gather, this all started because the old analog TV’s would sometimes short circuit and explode, causing the back of them to blow out with dangerous glass shards flying out of them. Another worry a few decades ago was that there was X-ray radiation coming from the screen that you would absorb by standing too close to it. Both these problems seemed to exist only in fringe cases and only with extremely old TV’s. The most I see the VR headsets doing now is causing eye fatigue and dry eyes from the extreme focus. This is an issue that should definitely be addressed and regular breaks should be taken, just like every piece of technology.
Nausea was at first a huge issue
s among hardcore gamers and first-time users alike. The development community has been very aware of this and in response, have consistently made a better experience with every iteration. I used to have my own motion sickness problems, but with all the new titles I play, I no longer feel it. This is due to increasing the video frame rate, having more realistic graphics, working on body physics in-game so you move in the same way as you would in reality, and adding arms and legs to your POV to ground you into the experience, just to name a few.
And as for cardio, all you have to do is plug into Audio Trip or any of the other hundreds of workout based games to know that the primary market in VR does the exact opposite of sitting on a couch. There are even fitness trackers for your favorite experience via YUR. The future of VR is actually more active most other form of entertainment to exist on this planet.
Projects I have my eyes on
This thing is sick! It has been a long-awaited immersive technology that has only been previewed
it at recent conferences. Sensync has neurofeedback, biofeedback, programmed aromatherapy, wind and temperature controls, spatial audio, and a slew of other features. They are really setting the bar for what therapeutic grade virtual journeys can be. I may fly to Hawaii just to give this first one a shot!
With a mission to “Exponentially increase funding for XR artists who push community forward,” this is the most mature community I have seen in the XR space. Global leaders are gathering on this platform to see the latest and greatest projects, connect with like minds, and find funding for their next big dream.
I am all in on a yearly membership. The value here seems exponential and the projects I have come across after only 15 minutes on their website are mind-blowing. These are the type of resources any XR enthusiast needs to stay on top of to really know where the entertainment industry is heading.
I was recently told about this very interesting platform that serves as a catalog of VR exclusive movies, documentaries and interactive film experiences. It’s like the Netflix of VR. Compiling all the latest and greatest in immersive content outside of the videogame world, this platform inspires me to think about how content is shared and open-sourced. I also loved the fact that I can watch a majority of their content without putting on my VR headset, browsing the experiences on my desktop before committing. And there’s SOOO much content in this thing. Wow!
January 7-10 | Las Vegas, NV – Our team has tickets to attend Dreamland XR, a conference hall filled with the latest in VR and AR experiences overlapping with CES. We will be super mobile, meeting all the developers, checking out biosensors to integrate into future titles, and of course getting plugged into the latest and greatest. Our CFO used to be a professional poker player (go figure…) so I am sure I will be watching him work his magic and maybe learning a thing or two on the Vegas Strip.
January 17-19 | San Antonio, TX – Our team is so excited to have our sponsorship dialed in at PAX South. Andromeda will be providing a tea house, meditation and embodiment area (Soundself & Audiotrip), biofeedback vibrating beds, and Steam codes for our two new titles. We will have about 12 people from our team in attendance, including a camera crew and some awesome brand ambassadors. If you want to truly see us in full force, make sure to head down for a day or two!
January 21 | New York City – We are excited to be debuting SoundSelf: A Technodelic at the 9th annual New York Video Game Awards. Held at the SVA Theatre in New York City, this event honors the best in video gaming. We hope to be up for an award next year!
Updates with Andromeda
SoundSelf is getting prepared for an extensive marketing campaign as we plan our launch for March of 2020. As a title that is not VR exclusive (meaning any gaming computer can run the experience on a monitor or projector) we have enlisted the team behind DMT Spirit Molecule, Onnit, and Aubrey Marcus’s personal brand Wizkru Agency to bring our mission-driven title to the masses.
We are, of course, preparing for Audio Trip to hit Quest, and all the fun winter sales that will commence over the next two weeks. Stay tuned for discounts and updates via Steam, Oculus, and Viveport.
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Wishing you all joyful holiday season!