The product description sounded good on paper, although the product’s name should have warned us: “FaceDisplay: Enabling Multi-User Interaction for Mobile Virtual Reality”. Then, we saw the product introductory video. My reaction was… Well let’s just say that Ace Ventura said it best: “Aaaaaallllllrighty then…”
Taken from the white paper: We present FaceDisplay, a multi-display mobile virtual reality (VR) head mounted display (HMD), designed to enable non-HMD users to perceive and interact with the virtual world of the HMD user. Mobile VR HMDs offer the ability to immerse oneself wherever and whenever the user wishes to.
FaceDisplay is one of the many crazy yet inventive projects to come out of this years’ ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, held this past May in Denver Colorado.
The end game is to create a device that enables application scenarios in which users can interact with VR in public places. The point is to have those around not feel left out. The product demo used the Fruit Ninja VR game, to showcase the interaction via touchscreen. The idea itself is not bad. But boy, does it look silly.
Ultimately, this is absolutely NOT what Social VR should be about. We much prefer they idea and promise of the Altspace VRs and Facebook Places of this digital world. Google’s ideas are some of my favorite: on one end, you can share your VR Experience by Chromecasting it onto a TV screen to allow others to see what you are doing. The YouTube VR Social solution is still the best to me, as it allows you to invite friends to watch YT content together in VR.
While Social VR is still, like the rest of VR, in its Infancy, I will say without any restriction that FaceDisplay is not the direction we should be taking. What do you think?