Does "Ready Player One" Depict The Possible Future of Virtual Reality?
For those who have been watching and have loved the Steven Spielberg films, chances are, if you love computers and Virtual Reality or even just plain science fiction, you will enjoy Ready Player One. The movie is about a very possible reality of how VR and AR might be used in the very near future around 2045.
The story starts with the hero Wade Watts who at the time would frequent an online massive VR gaming platform called the OASIS. The platform which has sort of become a world online institution was developed by eccentric James Halliday and his best friend Ogden Morrow. When Halliday passed away, he left an open contest to the users of OASIS to find an easter egg he left hidden within it. Whoever finds the egg first will have full control of the platform and his personal wealth as well.
Wade is known as a gunter or a VR hunter of the easter egg. He befriends other players and forms a team or clan that actively takes part in the contest to find the egg. As a game, the story is pretty much MMORPG with wade moving around the OASIS multi-game universe as his avatar Parzival who sort of looks like a refugee from the Final Fantasy game series. His team composed of the beautiful and shapely Art3mis (who also happens to be his real life love interest Samantha) and his best friends, Aech, Daito and Shoto go on this amazing real world and cyberpunk adventure to obtain 3 keys that opens the gates to where the easter egg is located and having to deal with the insidious CEO of a powerful Online service provider called IOI (Innovative Online Industries) who wants the egg for himself to monopolize the OASIS.
The movie has the trademark Spielberg style that will give you a feel like watching Back to the Future or ET even if the story line tackles a different subject altogether such as cyberpunk and futuristic dystopia mixed in with youthful adventure and excitement. What more, the production must have exhausted a lot of effort to include the various cameo appearances of characters, objects and places taken from movies, games, comics and other audio-video and print media throughout the years. For one, it was great to see Dr. Emmet Brown's De Lorean or the Iron Giant as well.
As the movie focuses on cyberpunk and the near future of VR, one cannot help but notice the equipment that Wade uses, his VR Rig "Ready Player One" or his cyber-deck so to speak (It does remind one of Neuromancer). Ready Player One looks more like AR goggles than today's current VR HMDs. You could also see his wide open eyes if you stare from the outside. In reference with today's technology, his goggles would be a mix of several of the key devices that we have today. One of the closest would be the Acer mixed reality headset that combines both VR and AR into a single display although it does look like simply converting the Real space into a Virtual one. Wade's goggles is able to detect the real world so a mix of AR is definitely a part of it's technology. Today, we have the MicroSoft Holo Lens and the Magic Leap One AR Goggles so if you sort of combine all three products into a single integrated self-contained HMD goggle technology, you would be able to run around in both VR and the real world or switch between them in a smooth instantaneous way like Wade does.
Wade uses sleek data gloves to grope his way through VR. They do kind of look like neat spandex gloves and not the kind of VR exoskeleton wired gizmo glove contraptions we have today. The closest current VR glove that would fit Wade's data glove designer quality would be the Glove One. Except that it would be connected directly to the goggles or Wade's VR suit than to a PC. His VR jacket looks real cool as well and sports the same spandex like X-Men look like the Glove, kind of like a Tesla Suit and Hardlight VR Haptic Vest rolled into one. Speaking of Body Suits, the VR players working for IOI look like they use them.
VR track enclosures like the Omni and Kat Walk have been shrunk and integrated in the movie as well. Wade uses a mobile track pad to walk on and is suspended by a harness of wires for flexible body movement in VR which he executes in the real world like doing some “Neo” moves on Finale to kick her out of the Van.
Oasis (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation) as a platform is huge. As it is being used on a daily basis by an inordinate amount of people, the memory space requirements, processing power and network load connectivity must be able to withstand the amount of users logging in and out of the system. Unfortunately, we still don't have anything as remotely close and commercially available today. The closest we have right now would be the OASIS beta undertaken by Valve for it's Steam VR/ VivePort for use with the HTC Vive. It can only simulate a small portion of OASIS but at least it's a start. Also the development of Cross-Platform Multiplayer VR games will definitely open the way for a massive integrated VR environment that OASIS is.
Internet connectivity like in the movie is just a matter of time. In big cities around the globe where public wi-fi is available in a lot of areas, by extending the transmission range of Wi-fi routers or using cell sites and towers for mobile internet communications and bolstering their strength, Wade and his team will always have a signal to latch onto no matter the twists and turns of where their van goes even with Finale close behind.
If you think about the movie and the fact that you can already relay a lot of the devices we currently have available with the story itself, it won't be difficult to conclude that sooner or later, something like this is probably bound to happen. As to how far in the future something like OASIS would be possible maybe as closer than we think. 2045 is more like an educated guess or rough estimate based on the speed of the technological developments we have today but anything can happen and an alternate scenario of Johnny Mnemonic/ Neuromancer may happen instead where implants are used and logging-in requires one to really plug-into the system. Regardless of where the future brings us, Ready Player One is an enlightening and light hearted glimpse of where VR, AR and Mixed Reality technologies might be, several years from now.
If you like VR and gaming, make sure to see the movie. You’ll love it.