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What's the problem with VR?

When planning a visitor center, you should always remember that the technology should serve the content and the experience, and not be tempted by innovations that sometimes seem cool to us.

The technology of VR - or in its full Hebrew name: Virtual Reality - and in Hebrew Tshacha: virtual reality, has been with us for many years.

These are glasses closed from all sides that the visitor puts on his eyes, and then he sees around him a virtual world that surrounds him from all directions - 360 degrees. In every direction he turns his head, he will see what the creators have created for him: an imaginary game, video footage of a place or scene, and more.

There are people, especially adults, for whom the experience throws them off balance and sometimes also creates nausea, because the brain loses the connection between the sensations of the body and the sight of the eyes.

Already in 2015, Facebook purchased Oculus, which developed and produced virtual reality glasses, and today anyone can buy a VR system for 100 NIS, one that fits on the smartphone, or an advanced independent system, for 1,000 NIS.

There are few places (very...) where I have seen a VR glasses experience that both works well and is appropriate and justified in terms of content.

At the last expo held this year in Dubai, there were several centers that used VR technology - the United Emirates airline, Egypt, Palestine (our neighbors...) and more, but despite the large amount of money invested in them - all the results were disappointing and did not justify the use of the technology.

I visited Paris at the IAAPA EXPO exhibition of the World Organization of the Attractions and Experience Parks Industry (albeit in 2019), and there were demonstration stands of all the world's leading companies in the fields of advanced technology. There, too, I saw many attempts to produce significant VR experiences - without real success.

The main challenge

There is no way to tell an exciting story using the unique media of VR. Or at least - I have not yet seen anywhere a VR experience that told an exciting story. This happens mainly because there is no focus of a director and editor who choose for the viewer the point of view and the focus on the story.

Although there are places where they created a very impressive experience, which is also commercially successful - for example at the entrance to the Western Wall near the Wall tunnels, where they created an impressive experience that illustrates the structure of the Temple in ancient Jerusalem, and the work of the priests. Those who put the glasses on themselves can feel as if they are in the temple, and see the work of the priests and the magnificent building. Really nice work!! What I lacked in the performance is that there is no exciting story that connects me to the history and structure of the place. But maybe this is just my problem..

My friend Uncle Shlita, a creator, animator, painter and a man of many works, drew my attention to the fact that one of the biggest problems with using new technology is that even the most exciting technological innovation standing at the top of the visitor's center, after a few years, looks like an old-fashioned trick that has passed its time. Just right.

There are places where the use is completely justified!

For example - in the visitor center 'Ilanot KKL-Junk', which was carried out by Compugraphic, and where there are VR stations that simulate a bicycle trip in the KKL-Jev forest. The Ilano center is all about trees and forestry, therefore placing bicycle stations where the visitor sits on a bicycle, puts on the glasses and pedals to walk in the forest - this is justified and cool. (Full disclosure: I served as the center's content manager).

Although the VR does not tell a story at the Ilanot center either, but there it does not pretend to excite or teach - but only to give a fun experience of traveling through the forest, which incidentally ends with a flight hovering over the forest. The exciting experience in Ilanot takes place in its entirety in the auditorium.

In conclusion

Using VR technology can be appropriate and justified in some cases - but they are few and rare, and usually the use of technology is carried out without real justification and creates an experience that does not promote the goal.

Creating simple and good things is the most complicated.

Good luck!!


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