Samsung's initial ads for the Gear VR, the company's portable virtual reality solution designed in cooperation with Oculus VR, were embarrassing. Virtual reality puts you inside a game or experience, and the act of interacting with these virtual worlds doesn't translate well into words, still images or even video.
This was one of the company's first attempts.
It's an awkward ad, and the people involved are clearly acting. It looks like it's set in a cheap version of the Matrix, and it doesn't convey the power of the best virtual experiences.
I own a Gear VR, and I use the product daily, but this ad was hard to endure. Putting your head into one of these displays is already a geeky endeavor, but this ad made it looks worse than the reality, which should have been a tricky thing to pull off.
A new short film from Samsung does a much better job of explaining the possibilities of virtual reality. The company helped to stream a live birth using a 360-degree camera, with the father watching using a Gear VR streaming the video.
The married couple was 2,500 miles apart, but the father was able to experience the birth in real time, while being able to look around the entirety of the room and interact with the people there.
It's not as good as being there, but this solution is much better than a Skype call or other forms of video conferencing.
This is the true power of virtual reality: the act of sharing pure experiences with people who would be otherwise unable to take part. It will likely be gaming that fuels much of the early adoption of these devices, but it's the ability to share human experience in a way that feels immediate and real that will ultimately fuel mainstream adoption.
Our images of virtual reality usually include lawnmower men and geeky-looking equipment; this video shows the human, emotional side of the technology. It's an aspect of virtual reality that is no surprise to enthusiasts, but it's helpful to share it with people who may still be skeptical of the technology.
Virtual reality programs and equipment are improving at a rate that's almost scary; the progress we've seen in virtual reality in the past 18 months exceeds the work done in the previous 10 years.
Perhaps just as importantly, our ability to explain what makes these experiences so powerful is also improving. This is an early, but important, step in virtual reality becoming an accepted part of our lives.