Virtual reality headsets are usually used to transport their wearer someplace fantastic, but a new experiment with the Oculus Rift has it doing something a bit more disorienting: warping reality by keeping its wearer's vision a moment in the past. The so-called experiment, which was filmed as an ad for Swedish energy provider Umeå Energi's gigabit internet service, mounts a camera on the front of an Oculus Rift and then feeds its video onto the headset's screen, with the video staying between 0.3 seconds and an entire three seconds behind — a delay that makes it fairly hard for the wearer to see what they're doing.
Umeå calls the experiment "living with lag" and uses the strange experience to illustrate just how frustrating slow connections can be. Even though it's an ad, the reactions and experiences it displays are depicted as genuine, and it even shows both what it's like to watch someone who's dealing with lag and the vision of someone who's clumsily moving about because of the delay. A few tweaks may have made the experiment a bit more bearable — three seconds is a very long time, and the Rift doesn't appear to have been displaying the video in 3D — but even so, it's another example of the way VR headsets can be used to bend reality in thoughtful and unlikely ways.