Researchers at Microsoft believe the future of virtual reality could be more like an acid trip than a games experience. Speaking as part of a project on their expectations for the coming decade, one researcher said using the technology could lead to hallucinations which ‘blend or alter’ our reality.
They claim that as advances such as improved haptic feedback and tracking of body movements emerge, virtual reality will be a multisensory experience, rather than just audio-visual.
The claims emerged as part of a project from Microsoft which quizzed researchers on their expectations for virtual reality in 2017 and 2027. One member of the team, Mar Gonzalez Franco, said that within a decade VR could be capable of ‘producing hallucinations’.
Ms Gonzalez Franco said: ‘By 2027 we will have ubiquitous virtual reality systems that will provide such rich multisensorial experiences that will be capable of producing hallucinations which blend or alter perceived reality.
‘Using this technology, humans will retrain, recalibrate and improve their perceptual systems. In contrast to current virtual reality systems that only stimulate visual and auditory senses, in the future the experience will expand to other sensory modalities including tactile with haptic devices.’
Focusing on the near future, she also provided an insight into what we can expect next year: ‘In 2017 we will see the emergence of virtual reality devices that feature better body tracking. A positive outcome of this will be the ability to experience embodiment of virtual avatars from a first-person perspective.’
Virtual reality has already made the link with the psychedelic drug-culture of the 1960s.
Earlier this year, one firm tried to recreate the effect of LSD through HTV headsets, flooding the wearer’s vision with colours and shapes to virtually mimic the effects of the drug. But despite the free-love, bongo-bashing vibe of VR-induced hallucinations, reactions from other Microsoft researchers involved in the project may be set to harsh your mellow.
They predict that as artificial intelligence improves, it will continue to harness data from every aspect of our lives.