One of virtual reality’s biggest problems is its tendency to make people nauseous. So what was Intel to do when it hosted its 2017 CES press conference partly in VR? Apparently, make a tongue-in-cheek plan for the worst possible outcome. When attendees of today’s keynote arrived, they were directed to comfortable chairs with a black table, an Oculus Rift, a laptop... and a paper bag.
Intel probably wasn’t literally expecting anyone to throw up during the keynote. (I’ve never gotten to that point, and I haven’t seen anyone else get there either, even during some truly excruciating experiences.) But we did get a long speech beforehand about what to do if we felt sick in our VR headset, which mostly amounted to a very nice version of “take it off and breathe, you idiot.”
The keynote itself was a mix of virtual skydiving videos, a live sports feed, a preview for horror game Arizona Sunshine, and an on-stage demo of Intel’s own Project Alloy headset, which is supposedly being turned into a real product by the end of 2017.
I’ve seen group VR experiences go very wrong, but my experience here was smooth — and judging by the collective gasps around me during the Arizona Sunshine trailer, things went all right for at least a decent portion of the crowd. As I write this, someone from Intel is walking around collecting all the bags. They seem empty.