There has been an ongoing debate concerning the topic of Virtual Reality as a substitute for real travel. The topic has been widely discussed by both academics and practicioners. For example, at a discussion at the ITB 2016 the common opinion was that technology has not the power to replace the emotional experience of real travel. VR won’t be able to substitute the emotions when we meet people, the odours we smell when strolling along streets and the taste when we eat food. It is believed that VR is rather complementing than substituting real travel. However, as technology advances, the question pops up again and again: how will technological developments influence VR travel?
Telexistence Inc., a Tokyo-based robotic startup, has been working on MODEL H, a real-life avatar. Using a VR headset and special gloves, the user is enabled to see what the avatar sees and to receive haptic feedback, feeling what it feels. A wheel-based design allows the robot to move around remote places. In the promotional video, it is showcased how it could possibly look like to experience the Cherry Blossom in Kyoto from the own living room. The interesting fact is that a shared tourism experience is demonstrated, whereas so far most VR or 360-degree travel experiences have been isolated individual experiences.
According to Telexistance, the mechanical design of MODEL H is optimised for mass production. Imagine the possibilities – and also threats – that such an advancement in VR technology could provide. Besides the realisation of the five senses with VR technology, shared experiences might have an influence on the likelihood that VR travel gets real. What do you think, how will technological developments influence VR travel? Will technology, such as MODEL H, have an influence on the realisation of VR travel? And if, where do you see the advantages and disadvantages? We are curious to learn about your thoughts on that topic.
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