Thanks to my friend Brian, I recently had the opportunity to try out Valve's new work on virtual reality. Only a couple hundred or so people have had the chance to try it so far, and most of them are people within the video game industry. I went in thinking that it would be a fun diversion, and left thinking that it will fundamentally change the world.
I've tried a lot of virtual reality devices over the years. When an ill-fated virtual reality arcade opened up in Austin, Texas, my friends and I hoarded coupons for a free game from the newspaper and played for hours. On a school trip to Houston I bought a Nintendo Virtual Boy, which I absolutely loved. And then, when getting a demo of Matterport's room-scanning software, I got to try an Oculus Rift.
All of those experiences were really great, but what Valve has managed to do is to make virtual reality so real that my brain records it as something I did or experienced, rather than something I saw. That's a huge shift, and having experienced it, I predict that it will change everything.
The Valve demo is about half an hour long. You go into a weird room that may have been a storage closet in a previous life, and put on a big prototype looking headset. The guy who operates the demo cycles you through about a dozen different demos.