The holidays are a great excuse to use your family as guinea pigs for new technology.
This year, I put my family and friends in the virtual reality hot seat with Google's Daydream View. I loaded up my really blue Pixel XL (I'm obligated to remind you of that in every mention) with apps like Hello Mars, Evil Robot Traffic Jam, and the BBC's The Turning Forest. I didn't see my phone for about six hours, but I did make sure to take a few moments to study everyone's reactions.
Kids are always first
Almost every parent at our holiday family gathering asked if their kid could have a go at the Daydream View. I obliged, of course, and made sure that everyone had the safety talk and the basics down before leaving them alone with the headset. This is exactly why I never had access to my phone — the kids were crazy about virtual reality and wouldn't give it up!
Kids don't care about hardware limitations.
The kids didn't seem to mind the hardware limitations, either. At one point in the evening, the Pixel kept crashing during Hello Mars. I had a suspicion it had to do with the fact that the phone was scalding because of prolonged use, so I put it aside in a cool, dry place for a while. The kids could barely stand it, though; as soon as I turned my back, the phone was back in the Daydream View headset, doing its thing.
I also noticed that the View's remote helps exponentially at keeping a person engaged. Virtual reality is more immersive if you can interact with it, and that coupled with a pair of headphones is certainly why the kids were so into it— much longer than recommended. It also kept them occupied enough so that the parents could enjoy a glass of wine on Christmas Day.
Socializing is a bigger priority
Yes, this is a total "no duh," but I think it's worth remembering if you're planning to bring all of your Cool New Tech to the next major gathering. It's not that VR is devoid of interactivity, but when people who are close haven't seen one another in some time, the last thing they're itching to do is pop into another reality.
As VR devices become more commonplace, it's likely they'll become a part of the party.
I want to give credit to those at my family's Christmas gathering who took the plunge to check out what Daydream was about. However, I don't fault those who weren't interested, either: virtual reality still carries the stigma of being a solitary experience, so why would anyone be interested in jumping into that at a social event? Virtual reality makers, like Google, are aware of this preexisting notion and are working onfostering positive social experiences for the platform. As VR devices become more commonplace and more households adopt the technology, it's likely that it'll become a part of the party, but until we get there, it's still just a one-person experience.
Makeup is hard to wear in virtual reality
It's hard to don Daydream View with a fully made-up face — that was the biggest complaint from the ladies who emerged from the virtual world with a fresh "virtual reality" face. I'm still figuring out how to lessen the impact of having a thing strapped to your face and I promise that when I do, I'll share the good news.