168 hours. Multiple headsets. One fascinating livestream.
What’s the longest amount of time you’ve spent immersed in VR? Three, maybe four hours? Don’t worry, I won’t judge. After all, it’s easy to lose track of time while slicing through colored blocks in Beat Saber or hunting down enemy squads in Onward.
But just how long is too long exactly? Jak Wilmot, a content producer specializing in VR, has been pondering this exact question himself; so much so that the brave virtual reality enthusiast is livestreaming the effects of prolonged exposure to VR during an experiment in which he spends a full week (168 hours) immersed inside a headset.
According to Wilmot, virtual and augmented reality will replace current smart phone technology as the preferred form of communication and entertainment by the year 2038. Armed with this knowledge, Wilmot set out to test the physical and mental effects of a week-long VR session throughout which Wilmot will continue to work, relax, and communicate.
To do this, the brave virtual guinea pig is utilizing a variety of VR headsets to fit his various needs. An Oculus Rift, for example, is used during extended seated sessions, while a HTC Vive Focus and its pass-through AR functionality is used for completing household tasks; such as washing dishes, using the bathroom, preparing meals, etc.
Here are the ground rules:
- The subject is allowed 30 seconds in order to switch between VR headsets.
- All windows in the subjects living space must be blocked to continue “circadian rhythm via simulated day/night cycles.”
- The subject is allowed to exit VR for 30 seconds to eat if required by the meal (small snacks can usually be ingested while remaining immersed).
Beyond these small exceptions, our boy will remain totally immersed in VR until February 27th, upon which he will blossom from his VR cocoon and once again join reality. At the time of this writing Wilmot has spent a grand total of 49 hours immersed; and although Wilmot has only just begun this brain-melting experiment, he’s already reporting several discomforts which he’s had to address with creative solutions:
Sleeping has also proven to be a unique experience as Wilmot describes vivid dreams in which real-world noises emitted outside were interpreted as a VR experience.
“Hour 19.3 in XR: Very vivid dreams last night. My brain seemed to interpret outside noises (my neighbors) as a VR experience,” states Wilmot in a tweet. “Upon waking I realized what I was experiencing, was in fact, not reality.”
Hour 19.3 in XR:
Very vivid dreams last night. My brain seemed to interpret outside noises (my neighbors) as a VR experience.
— Jak (@JakWilmot) February 21, 2019
Wilmot aims to identify the effects of prolonged VR sessions in the hopes of developing various coping methods for remaining sane, healthy, and productive while immersed.
On the extremely likely chance someone questions the authenticity of the experiment, Wilmot is livestreaming the entire endeavor on Twitch and YouTube with several different cameras located throughout his home. He’ll also be live tweeting his project to his DisruptTweet account.
The man even constructed a homemade waterproof protective cage for his shower. If that isn’t commitment, I don’t know what is. We’ll be checking back regularly on Wilmot’s progress.