April Fools comes early as ridiculous VR peripheral pops up in store catalog.
I’d like to start off by admitting that it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that this was not in fact a real product available for purchase. Even after seeing the mechanically extending cat arm device attachment showcased in the promotion above I still thought, “Huh, seems somewhat plausible.” But as the video progressed I quickly started to realize that geek culture retailer ThinkGeek’s latest product, the VR Sensory Immersion Generator, was in fact just an early April Fool’s joke. However, it’s not the feeling of being so gullible that frustrates me. It’s the fact that all jokes aside, I would actually love to use this fictional product.
In my defense of being so naive, the presentation of the device starts off relatively believable. In-depth descriptions list a plethora of immersion-boosting functions while a high-quality diagram pinpoints the various features built into the device itself.
“Take your virtual reality gaming experience to the next level with the VR Sensory Immersion Generator. It provides multisensory accompaniment to your VR head-mounted display for a fully immersive experience. Put your HMD on and hand the Sensory Immersion Generator to a friend. It comes with headphones that cue your friend when you’re about to encounter a new experience that can be enhanced by the Sensory Immersion Generator. They pull the trigger, and suddenly your senses of touch, smell, and taste are integrated into the game. It’s virtual reality, enhanced.”
A keypad would serve as a program selector, allowing users to choose not only certain scents or physical experiences, but the intensity of these interactions as well. The “products” page also claims that although the device comes packaged with popular tactile components and liquids, the various attachments are interchangeable, allowing customization for any virtual reality experience. THIS is when things started to get fishy. Mechanical components such as cat paws and feathers attached to the front to simulate interactions with land animals and birds, smoke shooting from the front of the device to replicated fire, a high-pressure hose that lets you know when a saber tooth tiger is marking his territory by spraying you with water (I hope), the list goes on. Here are just a few of my favorite moments featured in the advertisement:
As ridiculous as this fake peripheral is, I still can’t shake the feeling of potential greatness. Obviously functions such as the extendable cat arm and water hose are beyond over-the-top, however the idea of having a friend control your multisensory experience while in virtual reality is an extremely interesting concept. Entrusting a second person with handling these functions could not only increase VR immersion levels without extra strain to VR headsets, but create a whole new ‘couch co-op’ experience for virtual reality by getting those without headsets involved in the action. The result could be a highly entertaining collaborative experience in the same realm as the immensely popular title Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Honestly the more I think about it, the more I see the value in this absurd contraption.