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What I learned from watching my family try virtual reality

This year, I put my family and friends in the virtual reality hot seat with Google's Daydream View. I loaded up my really blue Pixel XL (I'm obligated to remind you of that in every mention) with apps like Hello Mars (opens in new tab), Evil Robot Traffic Jam (opens in new tab), and the BBC's The Turning Forest (opens in new tab). I didn't see my phone for about six hours, but I did make sure to take a few moments to study everyone's reactions.

Kids are always first

Almost every parent at our holiday family gathering asked if their kid could have a go at the Daydream View. I obliged, of course, and made sure that everyone had the safety talk and the basics down before leaving them alone with the headset. This is exactly why I never had access to my phone — the kids were crazy about virtual reality and wouldn't give it up!

Kids don't care about hardware limitations.

The kids didn't seem to mind the hardware limitations, either. At one point in the evening, the Pixel kept crashing during Hello Mars. I had a suspicion it had to do with the fact that the phone was scalding because of prolonged use, so I put it aside in a cool, dry place for a while. The kids could barely stand it, though; as soon as I turned my back, the phone was back in the Daydream View headset, doing its thing.

I also noticed that the View's remote helps exponentially at keeping a person engaged. Virtual reality is more immersive if you can interact with it, and that coupled with a pair of headphones is certainly why the kids were so into it— much longer than recommended. It also kept them occupied enough so that the parents could enjoy a glass of wine on Christmas Day.

Socializing is a bigger priority

Yes, this is a total "no duh," but I think it's worth remembering if you're planning to bring all of your Cool New Tech to the next major gathering. It's not that VR is devoid of interactivity, but when people who are close haven't seen one another in some time, the last thing they're itching to do is pop into another reality.

As VR devices become more commonplace, it's likely they'll become a part of the party.

I want to give credit to those at my family's Christmas gathering who took the plunge to check out what Daydream was about. However, I don't fault those who weren't interested, either: virtual reality still carries the stigma of being a solitary experience, so why would anyone be interested in jumping into that at a social event? Virtual reality makers, like Google, are aware of this preexisting notion and are working on fostering positive social experiences for the platform. As VR devices become more commonplace and more households adopt the technology, it's likely that it'll become a part of the party, but until we get there, it's still just a one-person experience.

Makeup is hard to wear in virtual reality

It's hard to don Daydream View with a fully made-up face — that was the biggest complaint from the ladies who emerged from the virtual world with a fresh "virtual reality" face. I'm still figuring out how to lessen the impact of having a thing strapped to your face and I promise that when I do, I'll share the good news.

Did you show off virtual reality to the family this holiday? What were their reactions like? Tell us in the comments!

Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.

15 Comments
  • Anti social. Geeky. Niche. For now. Oculus is a pain and in the way when trying to use the simple to use Cardboard apps. I pretty much hate it so far although cool factor high for the one person using it.
  • Anti social, geeky, niche? Like the game boy I bought 25 years ago? They did quite well too.
  • Why say obligated instead of obliged?
  • And did the little sods help themselves to your phone, without permission, whilst it was cooling down? That's why I own 6 dogs, 6 cats, and 15 horses instead of little bastards. I hate children.
  • The gene pool is sorely missing your contribution.
  • Ha! Got em!
  • Only because your mum uses birth control
  • Hey man, I don't agree with the way you initially presented your point though I kind of agree which is why I don't have kids.... But God damn if that wasn't a great comeback!!!
  • I think it's alright but it's not for me. None of my friends are using them either.
  • What I already know about my family: almost all of them have a tendency toward severe motion sickness. What I would learn from playing VR games with my family: just how quickly (and how much) they'd all barf.
  • The social aspect would benefit from an easy way to cast to a nearby TV, and not in stereo mode. Though it might make the onlookers ill, come to think of it. And probably would eat additional resources the phone can't spare...
  • I dont understand... what did you learn? That VR headsets ruin makeup and kids love gadgets?...
  • Hmm, sounds like there's a need for a redesign to improve ventilation. I know the phone tray on my VR Box headset allows some air to circulate, and I've never had my HTC 'Extremely Silver' M8 actually slow down or overheat. I mostly use VR for exploring the globe in street view, or watching movies.
  • Probably wouldn't have an issue with light use like that, playing a game or something like that would task any phone regardless of what kind of ventilation the headset has.
  • I predict a fate similar to Google glass, smart watches and full autonomous cars. Posted via the Android Central App