Until recently, virtual reality (VR) felt like an exciting and far-fetched idea for the future. But now, with technology like Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift, VR is slowly becoming commonplace.
With virtual reality, you can view the ancient pyramids of Egypt or the depths of the Atlantic from your computer screen. You can get your adrenaline racing on a roller coaster ride, or watchStranger Things as if it were happening to you.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently said, "If you can’t think of any way that your reality can’t be better, then you’re not thinking hard enough."He's right -- virtual reality isn't meant to replace reality, but it is meant to enhance it. Sure, watching a 360 video of the pyramids might not be as great as the real thing, but plenty of times, the real thing is out of reach. We can't always deep dive into old shipwrecks, explore the inside of a volcano, or watch dinosaurs walk among us. When our reality limits our ability to experience the world, virtual reality opens a door.
If you're dying to experience virtual reality for yourself, you're in luck -- purchase yourself a cheap VR headset on Amazon (like this one for $13.95), and take a look at our roundup of the best VR videos on the internet today.
(Note: YouTube also has a VR channel, if you're interested in further perusing once you're hooked.)
1. Roller Coaster
If you're an adrenaline junkie who doesn't get to experience the thrill of roller coasters enough, take a look at this video. Fake or not, you'll still feel your stomach drop on the way down. Beware -- it feels like the real thing.
For many people, skydiving is at the top of their bucket list. While it's not on mine (I can barely ride an escalator without feeling anxious), this video seems like a fair trade-off for the real thing, giving you a taste for what you'd see and how you'd feel in midair. If you are interested in skydiving in real life, this seems like good practice.
3. What Happens Inside Your Body?
If my Anatomy teacher showed us this 360 view of our internal body, I might've paid more attention. The video explores everything from your circulatory system to your digestion, and is narrated in a funny yet informative way. In less than five minutes, you'll feel like you suddenly understand your body in a way you didn't before.
"Expedition to the Heart of an Active Volcano" truly does take you on an expedition -- you experience everything from walking through the woods with equipment, to standing directly over the active volcano, watching fire rise up. You'll also learn something about volcano expeditions, as the video's narrator explains how the men prepare for an expedition in real life.
If you enjoy playing video games, imagine how much fun you'd have being in one. This 360 video of the 1980's game Pac-Man allows you to immerse yourself in the game, feeling as if you were Pac-Man himself. Unfortunately, you can't actually play (yet), but it's still a fun time.
6. Deep Dive
This video has no narration, which lends itself well to the experience of feeling like you're actually scuba diving in the depths of the ocean off Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. It's surprisingly calming, and lets you take a look around the bottom of an ocean you might never see in real life (although this video could convince you to reconsider).
If you've ever wanted to play out Jurassic Park, now's your chance. In the video, you ride along in a jeep and watch as dinosaurs fly over you or walk beside you. Admittedly, the suspense scared me more than the dinosaurs themselves, but it's a cool opportunity to imagine what it would be like if these extinct creatures still lived among us.
8. Swimming with Dolphins
This video serves dual purposes, as the publishers note: "Whether it’s for fun … [or] healthcare purposes [such as] treating anxiety disorders." The footage takes you into the Red Sea and truly feels real, as you both see and hear up to 80 wild spinner and bottlenose dolphins. For an experience difficult to achieve in real life, this is a fantastic alternative.
9. Great Pyramids of Egypt
If you never get the chance to visit Egypt, VR finally offers the opportunity to see the pyramids for yourself. The video even takes you through a souvenir shop (apparently VR isn't void of commercialism), and walks you through the sand dunes. While it's difficult to grasp the full magnitude of the pyramids through the video, it's compelling nonetheless.
10. National Geographic Lions
National Geographic's VR videos allow you to explore an animal's natural habitat without intruding on it, giving you true and realistic glimpses into their everyday lives. This video, which focuses on lions in the wilderness, provides narration that absorbs you into the drama of Gibson the lion and his mother as they struggle for survival.
11. Stranger Things
Unfortunately, this mini-clip doesn't quite take you through the whole journey of a season (it's less than two minutes long), but it's still a unique and thrilling experience. You'll feel as if you're in the Stranger Things living room set, and, despite my firm understanding that this isn't real life, I still always jump at the end.
Originally published Sep 10, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated October 23 2018