Virtual Reality or VR as it is called is the latest on the scene of technology to mystify me. I thought I’d really gotten into advanced technology when I began typing on an electric typewriter back in the day. My typing class in high school used manual typewriters. You know the keys really needed a good thump to make the letters imprint on the paper. Then came the IBM “Correcting Selectric.” A typewriter that could correct errors simply by backspacing. Wow! About the same time, there was the emergence of computers being used in the banking industry for complex calculations, and yes, word processing. The world was on fire with new technology that began to change the day-to-day business world.
The next advance in technology was the telephone that no longer required that you be tethered to a cord. You could pick up the phone and walk around while talking. Clever! Then before I knew it, there was the car phone for ordinary people. Remember there were folks who purchased fake phones just to look cool? And then in the early 1970s, Motorola was the first company to mass produce the first handheld mobile phone. As I recall, they had a little antenna, and you couldn’t get much service, but you were keeping up with the latest technology.
I’ve finally adjusted to my smartphone that is not tethered by a cord and can also take pictures, give me directions, track my steps, connect me to the internet, and has “apps” galore to do any function I could possibly want or need. Want music? How about games? You can watch, stream, or listen. What’s not to love? Well, there is that. My phone is so much smarter than I am. Almost every day I discover something about my phone that I didn’t know before. All those settings! All those buttons! It’s a little intimidating.
Enter VR! VR is a simulated experience that can be similar to, or completely different from, the real world. Some days this might sound like something we could all use as an escape mechanism. VR requires a headset—which by the way is pricey—and it works by immersing you in a “virtual” setting. The applications of virtual reality include entertainment with games galore, education (such as medical or military training), and business, such as virtual meetings.
VR is big business with games of all kinds which take you into a setting where you can manipulate the avatar, the electronic image. Well, here comes the latest in this VR world of commerce. Meta (formerly called Facebook) will launch an avatar fashion store to sell virtual clothes for real money. Yes, that’s what I said—virtual “clothes” for real money! So, your avatar will be decked out in a fashionable ensemble or just something casual, you know, for your on-line virtual reality game that you can’t touch or wear.
Should you decide to purchase clothes for your avatar in this manner, might I suggest that you also consider a scholarship for our little dog, Carly too? I really think she’d like to go to college to continue her education. She is very clever and has learned many things so I’m certain she could benefit from your generosity. I’ll ask her what her degree program will be and let you know. She’s an excellent communicator. She relays information via the tail wag, her big brown eyes, and occasionally the enthusiastic bounce or bark.
Of if you would rather do something more meaningful, you might donate to our local United Way, one of the local school systems, or the Inter-Faith Compassion Ministry, or any other organization that is meaningful to you. Of course, this could mean your avatar might not be festooned in the latest style, but who would know? My apologies to those who have a better appreciation for this new technology and for well-dressed avatars.
Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.