A view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel tower. From up here, the city splays before you like a faded ivory plate. The green-gray streak of the Seine divides the city like the cheeky brush stroke of a post-modernist painter. The twinkling summit of Montmartre, the gothic glamour of Notre Dame, the lush promenade of the Champ de Mars: all dollhouse-miniature. You turn to your best friend, who leans over a railing beside you. Her mouth hangs open, her gaze hops from point to point along the horizon. Finally, she turns to you, eyes damp. This is her first time here.
You are sitting in your room in Oakland, California. She is visiting her family in Minneapolis. You are both standing at the top of the Eiffel tower, breathless.
A dream of VR.
The technological hurdle for virtual reality in its current iteration is not putting you in Paris. It’s bringing your best friend with you. Not her voice, or an animated avatar, but your friend. Her body. Her face. Most importantly, her eyes.
When we strap visors to our heads, we lose sight of the most emotionally rich asset we can bring to a virtual world, our own faces.
Today’s question is: how will we show our face in virtual worlds?
Until we do, every moment we spend with our friends in VR will feel rather uncanny.