Brain too clever to be fooled by virtual reality

The faceputer ads say virtual reality is coming and it’s gonna work this time. But here’s some real talk: There are still many ways virtual reality cannot fool the human brain. And it has little to do with the tech itself. Instead, it’s about neuroscience and our brain’s perceptual limits.

True, the past year has brought a great flourishing of virtual reality systems that are miles better than the clunky, nauseating devices of the 90s. The HTC Vive and Sony’s Project Morpheus were just unveiled. Oculus is chugging along since its $2 billion acquisition by Facebook in 2014. Magic Leap is doing whatever the hell it’s doing.

This new set of devices is good enough to feel stomach-droppingly real—even though the images are still pixelated and lag a tiny bit. People in VR call this overwhelming feeling “presence.” But it’s possible to fool one part of the brain without fooling another.

When journalists write about being wowed by the latest fancy VR device, they mean the emotional gut punch of say, looking down a castle wall at an invading army. They don’t mean that VR is indistinguishable from reality. As Jason Jerald, a technology consultant for VR companies, puts it, “We can get very engaged in cartoon-like worlds.” Images don’t have to look perfect for presence.

But these imperfections become obvious if you spend more than the typical few minutes of a press junket inside VR. Or try to walk and turn. There are many reasons, both conscious and unconscious, that your brain rejects the reality of a screen mounted a few inches in front of your eyeballs.

Read full original article: The Neuroscience of Why Virtual Reality Still Sucks

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