Oculus' Michael Abrash Explains How Virtual Reality is Reality
Image courtesy of: Facebook/F8
On Thursday, Oculus Chief Scientist Michael Abrash took to the stage at Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco, to demonstrate that not everything we believe is real.
During his keynote presentation, Abrash, referenced ideas from the 1991 sci-fi film, The Matrix, as something more than just science fiction, but as a real example of how we define reality. Abrash goes on quote a line from the movie by Laurence Fishburne’s character, Morpheus, to help explain why virtual reality can feel like something so real.
“What is real? How do you define real?…If you are talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”
Throughout the presentation, Abrash demonstrated a series of impressive optical illusions to prove how the brain interprets reality. Our brain is constantly trying to make sense of the world around us, based on a set of assumptions due to limitations by our sensory system, and processes it as being something real. It’s this internal model of the world created by the brain to compensate for the limited data it receives that is the one we actually experience, and believe in. In other words, your brain can be easily tricked to believe what you think is reality not to be true at all.
“Reality is what our brain reconstructs it to be,” said Abrash. “It’s fair to say our experience of the world is an illusion.”
Oculus plans to take full advantage of this to help tap into that sense of ‘presence’ within the Oculus Rift. According to Abrash, “Virtual reality, done right, really is reality, as far as the observer is concerned.”
At the present time, virtual reality technology is only scratching the surface of what true presence feels like. As hardware continues to improve with better screens, and audio, including integrating more natural controller input with haptic feedback, the line between what is our reality, and the virtual world will merge even closer.
“Unlike Morpheus, I’m not here to offer you a choice today,” Abrash said to attendees. “No matter which pill you take, we’re all headed down the rabbit hole together.”