Virtually Real

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I discovered a whole new thing last year. Virtual reality; my son lent me his VR headset and I so loved the experience that I asked for a set for Christmas. So I have re discovered VR again with my own headset, a non tethered one. The one I got is low cost, so not the highest spec one available. But for me it’s amazing. I don’t play games, so I don’t need super fast. My eyes aren’t brilliant anyway, so I don’t need 4K clarity.

I can visit space on the Apollo missions, yes that was me with Neil Armstrong. I was the one who got off Apollo 11 second, my words were “you’re wrong Neil, it’s a very big step for man” as I tripped off the lunar lander. I have jumped out of airplanes with a parachute, yes that’s what the screams were you heard in the sky. I have dived into the deep oceans. I was even present at last years fireworks on the embankment in London for the new year. I was the very tall guy that stuck out above everyone. The best bit is that whenever I visit museums and famous landmarks I seem to be the only one there. I’m not sure if that’s because I have bypassed the payment booths. Maybe I turn up on a day they are closed. But I certainly get an amazing view, I can even go right up to pictures in the Louvre, and into them. Bet you’ve never done that; unless you have a VR headset that is.

VR (virtual reality) is a brilliant idea for those of us in wheelchairs or bed. We can get places it would be impossible to go normally. Yes, I know even able bodied people may struggle to visit the moon. I was at the North Pole yesterday looking at the Northern Lights. Boxing Day I took a ride on Santa’s sleigh, you see he is real; mind you he must be starting early for next year.

I did a bit of research into how they create these amazing bits of VR film. As you may guess they do it by expensive bits of kit. A set of high definition cameras filming in all directions at once. But, there is a cheap and less high quality alternative that I am going to try for my blog. You can get dual dome lenses on a camera. One dome lens on each side. It films most of the way around in reasonable quality. So watch this space. I will also be doing some ordinary video of trips out, showing what travel is like in a wheelchair. So that should be interesting. I wonder what my red hair will look like in 360 degree virtual reality? What am I saying, amazing of course.

Virtual reality seems to be in its infancy at the moment. I can see a time in the future when the hardware will not be big chunky headwear. For those who don’t know, you have to wear a big headset over your eyes that is either linked to a computer or has its own ability to run built in, like mine. Sometimes people put phones into something called Google Cardboard, which started as cardboard headsets, but now includes plastic and expensive headsets. The things you look at in the headsets are either games, apps, photos or videos. I can imagine a time when we will either have no headwear or very lightweight headwear to view VR.

VR would have been great for me in the first few weeks I spent in hospital then at home when I was mainly on my back and hardly able to move. VR so opens your world. To think I could have witnessed a T Rex attack a Velociraptor close up in VR two years ago, if only I had the equipment. What am I saying, I could have watched Luminere dance on the table in Beauty and the Beast. The experience of watching ordinary films is also transformed as you watch them on the equivalent of a cinema screen in whatever environment you choose. My home VR environment, that is the place I start out in, is Monument Valley, Utah.

I am writing this in my favourite café, any guesses? Yes, Cleve Spa Coffee Shop. It’s a couple of days before the new year, so I can’t yet say I won’t have a wash till next year. At least I hope not. But I do wish you all a Happy and Blessed New Year. I pray you will find joy and happiness in 2020.

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