Let’s party for real

Let me tell you about this fantastic party I went to last night. It is not every day you get to have a dinner inside of La Sagrada Família in Barcelona. I am not even sure it has ever happened before.

Party
Michael Björn

Head of Research Agenda and Quality at Consumer & IndustryLab

Hashtags
#virtualreality

There we were, at a large table decked out for fifty guests. I was so taken in by the sights, I could hardly talk. Antonio Gaudí’s incredibly fluid shapes weaving organically and flowing like swirling rivers of stone, lit up by live candle chandeliers especially for the night.

But if the location blew me away, it was really the company that made the evening. A friend had invited me along, but I didn’t get to see her much during the evening, because seating was arranged so that everyone sat with people they had not met with before. At my end of the table, we were all from countries that were rather remote. I heard the most fantastic stories about places I now dream to once be able to visit, like the Maldives, East Timor, New Zealand, Greenland, and Alaska. There was even a guy from a small island in the middle of nowhere called Pitcairn Island. I have still to look it up on a map.

The food was as exotic as the company. As it happens, there was one dish representing each of the fifty nations at the party; I tasted strange fruits that I do not know the names of, spicy noodles, deliciously marinated leaves, and various meats and fish, although the sugary pickled herring – that for some reason represented Sweden – was a bit of a letdown.

To all of this, we were drinking vintage wines of all sorts. When I found a 1946 Dom Pérignon, that is what I stuck to for the whole dinner. I had dreamt about tasting that ever since I read an Ian Fleming novel where James Bond orders that particular year.

After this marvelous dinner, there was going to be dancing. But it was already getting very late.

Knowing that I would inevitably be late for work the next day if I continued, I excused myself, logged out of the social VR network and turned off my equipment – the headset and the gloves, as well as the VR plate and cup.

Back in my study, I had a brief sensation of feeling that it was actually reality I had left behind and that my real room was the illusion. But maybe it was an effect of the wine, which was indeed real – although it was of course only artificially flavored to taste like vintage champagne in my VR cup .

Now, all of this may sound a bit nonsensical, but there is already a prototype cup that lets you transmit drinks over the internet. The cup doesn’t actually transmit the liquid, instead it analyses the flavor of the drink and sends that information over to the receiving cup where the flavor is artificially recreated.

Furthermore, as we showed in the Ericsson ConsumerLab 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2017, advanced VR users already believe that virtual experiences could become indistinguishable from reality in as little as three years time!  And once you believe it is real, maybe it is…

Meanwhile – see you at the next social VR event at AltspaceVR or in Rec Room where I often hang out these days. They may not be serving drinks there just yet – but hey, it is getting pretty real already!


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Michael Björn
Michael Björn is Head of Research Agenda and Quality at Consumer & IndustryLab at Ericsson ConsumerLab and has a PhD in data modeling from the University of Tsukuba in Japan.
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