"This is probably the stupidest thing I've ever done, but welcome to our future ahead." This is how Jake Wilmot, co-founder of Atlanta-based virtual content studio Disrupt VR, described his experiment. He spent 168 hours without taking off his virtual reality headset to find out what it would be like to completely move into the "fake world."
As a testing ground, Wilmot chose his own apartment, taped up the windows to abstract from the changing time of day, and stocked up on food. He used two types of headsets - a typical Oculus model with a PC connection and a set of programs for virtual reality, plus a mobile version with special software. He used the first for its intended purpose, the second had an integrated camera, so Wilmot could see what was happening in reality, but in a processed, "virtual" format.
According to the rules, he could change headsets at any time, closing his eyes for 30 seconds in order to remain in the digital world throughout the experiment and not see the world around him with his own eyes. Wilmot worked, ate, slept, did household chores and at the same time played and trained in VR - all the time with headsets on his head. He described it as a world of "universal freedom" where, as a reaction to stress, you can easily transform into a hero and go to destroy virtual dragons. Or arrange a fitness workout on Mars, and then go to VRChat and chat with friends.
The difference between interacting with the world through a computer monitor and a VR headset, according to Wilmot, is colossal. He does not remember the moment when the effect of presence began to dominate, but he clearly felt that he did not “enter” virtual reality, but literally “lived” in it. At the end of the experiment, the disorientation lasted a few minutes, Wilmot quickly bounced back. And his most vivid impression was - "what amazing graphics in the real world!"