Virtual Reality in BabsonCODE

Virtual Reality in BabsonCODE


Step into the shoes of a college student in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The newest “craze” are personal computers – big, bulky machines that only displayed command prompts and weighed a ton. They honestly looked stupid.  And the people who sat hunched over those tiny screens might have looked like idiots – or worse – nerds.

Fast forward a little less than a decade and the Apple 1 comes out; soon computers start to become mainstream. A few short years later and a bright student from Harvard noticed that these computers lacked meaningful software, and launches a startup called Microsoft.

I don’t need to paint the picture any further. The point isn’t that computers started out as stupid machines and then became ubiquitous.

The big takeaway is that entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were working with computers as early as the 1970’s and 1980’s when they were big, bulky stupid machines that no one wanted. Why? Because they, like many entrepreneurs at the time, made a bet that in the next few years, computers will dominate the world. And their bet paid off.

And like the computer 30 years ago, Virtual Reality (VR) is on the cusp of becoming mainstream. The early modern prototype – the Oculus Dev Kit 1, was a big, bulky headset. With very low resolution and the inability to move around, it was a pretty bad demo.

Fast forward a few years, and now we have the second generation of Virtual Reality Headsets, and these are mind-blowing. Most notable is the HTC Vive, the most advanced VR currently.

The Vive uses two infrared laser emitters that paint a given area in lasers to create a 3D plane. Combine that with your Vive hand controllers and you get an unprecedented virtual experience. You can now walk, jump, crouch, lay down, pick up, kick, punch, shoot, wave your arms and more in the Virtual World. You have full body immersion.

And that’s only the beginning. Companies are now taking that technology to paint entire football fields into the virtual world, allowing for mass armies of people to interact with one another.

It’s hard to explain unless you try it – and if you want to try it, head up to CODEPLEX (Van Winkle C1).

Even more exciting is the blossoming VR software industry. Let me make this clear: There are no gorillas here. The VR software industry is the wild west, and like the early days of the computer, it is open for the early adopters to reap in rewards. Almost every industry is being disrupted in some way by VR, be it military simulations, video games, medicine, or more.

Now is the time to put in your bets; in fact, I even put in a chip by starting a VR company called Vinci. Vinci allows designers to drag and drop their 3D models into VR, allowing creators to build in an immersive and interactive space.

Will Vinci succeed? I’m not even 100% sure that the VR industry itself will succeed. What I do know is that as a College student in 2017, it’ll be a shame to miss out on something so promising.

By: Eagle Wu ’19