How a Demo Scared Me Silly, and Convinced Me VR Is Serious

by Brian Caulfield

I’m not going to be that dude, I promised myself before my first VR experience.

I’m not going to be the dude who ducks to avoid virtual bullets. Or shrinks back from the edge of a virtual cliff. None of this is real.

But one minute into “Bullet Train,” an action-packed VR experience created by Epic Games, I was that dude.

I plucked virtual bullets out of the air and flung them back at my enemies. I felt my guts quaver as I peered over the edge of a virtual cliff. Startled, I ducked and bobbed to avoid virtual bad guys.

Screw dignity.

textNVIDIA GPUs are at the heart of a new generation of immersive VR experiences.It can sound weird, futuristic. Until you try it. Then it just feels like fun. And that’s always how it starts: with a great experience that attracts enthusiasts.

I was just one of a stream of visitors — who quickly became enthusiasts — experiencing VR in our demo room at CES 2016 this week. Hardcore gamers whooped as they grabbed missiles in mid-air, twisted them around and flung them right back at their enemies. Jaded journalists cowered when asked to cross a yawning virtual chasm.

One well known Vegas headliner we brought into our demo room tore off his headset and insisted everyone else in his entourage try it as he coached them through the experience.

And that’s why 2016 is going to be the year of VR.

NVIDIA GPUs are at the heart of these immersive VR experiences. Our GeForce GTX GPUs power the headsets and the VR games and applications.

The result of this work: a trio of VR experiences we’re showing at CES this year.

  • Everest VR from Sólfar Studios lets you climb to the top of Mount Everest in virtual reality. The presence of the demo is so strong that we’ve had people refuse to walk across the crevasses because they’re so scared. One of them might have been me.
  • Bullet Train, created by Epic Games, lets you run and gun your way through a futuristic railway terminal.
  • If you’ve seen the movie “Gravity,” you know what ADr1ft by 505 Games  is about. It puts the viewer in outer space, and sends you scrambling to find a way back to the safety of your space station.

While games can be the best way to show people what’s possible, they’re just part of the VR story. There are a ton of great professional experiences here that are being shown on the show floor, too. And NVIDIA is right in the middle of that.

Float through space, without a space suit, in ADr1ft by 505 Games.

Audi is using Quadro GPUs to show off a virtual showroom, where you can enter, pick colors and customize your car while shopping for a new Audi.

Surgical Theater lets doctors train in VR. They can learn and prep on an incredibly realistic virtual body before they make the first incision.

Don’t know if I want to try that one myself. But if I’m ever laid out on an operating table, I’d feel a lot better if I knew my doctor had.