Virtual Reality was pervasive at the Dell Technologies World show. Not only was it prominently featured in the Day 1 and Day 2 keynotes, but several VR experiences could be had in the Village and in the several vendor booths in the exhibitor space. One of the themes of this year's show was "Make it Real," and VR was shown as something that exists now and not just in the future.
The keynote experiences were mixed. Day one showed how VR was being used to help soldiers suffering from PTSD. Westworld's Jeffery Wright hosted Dr. Skip Rizzo at Bravemind who's research is astounding. The project recreates war zone conditions in an eerie way. The simulation is highly customizable including changes to time of day (day / night). The graphics were decent, but looked like something from maybe a Playstation or Xbox. More about the truly awesome work of Dr. Rizzo can be found here (http://medvr.ict.usc.edu/projects/bravemind/). The Pat Gelsinger demo was a little pained and felt a bit forced. The demo was of a virtual data center tour. Virtual machines were then displayed overtop physical servers. There were several animations including vmotions. There was even a mini-game, where Mr. Gelsinger tried to break virtual machines and they would come back "whack-a-mole" style in a demonstration of the VMware High Availability feature. We were shown the good and not so good of VR uses. Using VR to help soldiers adjust to life back home: yes, please. Using VR to navigate a data center: not so much.
The village had a game called "Ping" that was essentially a remake of the classic video game Pong, except the players wore VR headsets and moved themselves back and forth to bat the ball between contestants. Another game in the village featured drones in an AR type of experience. Contestants flew drones through a series of obstacles in real life while the screens in front of them translated the real life surroundings into elaborately decorated landscapes.
All of these demos were OK, but nothing that rivaled what we've been lead to believe the future of VR would be. Movies and TV have made us believe that VR would be almost indistinguishable from reality. That's just not the case. While it's good, it's not quite "there."
Interestingly enough, the best example of VR was found in the hotel adjacent to the convention center in a Star Wars VR game/simulator. The experience clearly demonstrates the differences between consumer grade VR and what's possible when pushed to the limits. Participants wear a haptic vest and VR headset, then enter a highly detailed Star Wars environment. Participants are transformed into Stormtroopers; the grey walls of the room are turned into a spaceship. The experience has a team of 4 people fly a spaceship, land, ride elevators, and walk through a starbase. You even get prop guns that turn into blasters complete with the "pew" "pew" sounds familiar to those who've seen the films. Players feel buzzes when they are shot (so much so that you find yourself looking for cover). I felt a little claustrophobic- at first with the haptic vest and heavy headset, but once the experience begins, all that goes away. What I witnessed was very close to an early version of the Oasis, the virtual world portrayed in Ready Player One. If this is what we have to look forward to, then VR will be great.