Arrival of the future

Virtual reality seen through glasses: From the outside, you look rather idiotic. But from the inside…

In May 2014 I tried VR glasses for the first time

It happened at the re:publica, and you had to wait a long time to be allowed to ride the virtual roller coaster for a few seconds. Meanwhile, the rest of the line shouted, “Can I try now?” Two years later, in March 2016, I was in Berlin at a “VR Film Festival”, which also consisted largely of queuing. But it’s no different with skiing, without the popularity of the sport suffering.

After the end of the film festival, my companions and I exchanged our ideas about the glasses-shaped future. “Will it be more of a pleasure at home?” I thought back then on the tech-diary blog. “In the meantime, one is almost as exposed to the environment as if one were asleep. Or will it just be like here, where friendly caretakers take care that you don’t get robbed and the house burns down?” I still knew little about the new thing, but I was convinced that it would change the world. So far I had only heard that you can watch porn in VR with providers like this.

Google Cardboard

A few weeks later, at another event, I was given a “Google Cardboard“, a cardboard construction that allows you to hold your mobile phone in front of your face as VR glasses and ride roller coaster as long as you want. So in my case constantly, but only on the first day. Afterwards the Google cardboard disappeared in a box, where it still lies today.

So the virtual glasses future came along like most futures: slowly and unobtrusively. One could almost have confused it with one of those developments, which consist mainly of press releases and end up as a funny footnote in retrospects on the decade: “Remember the Fax Newspaper?

From Christmas 2019 things went a little faster, because the nephew (17) got his own VR glasses and let me play Beat Saber with them, a game where you have a laser sword in each hand. Apparently I always wanted to have a lightsaber in each hand, I just didn’t know it. As with all VR operations, you don’t look quite as heroic from the outside as you do from the inside.

  • When I expressed my concerns in this regard, my nephews and nieces said that such a thing should not be taken into consideration in life.
  • I was a little ashamed, because after all, it is my job to educate young people about this – and not the other way around.
  • Besides, in everyday life you often enough feel like an idiot on the inside, while on the outside you look quite normal and maybe even wear a shirt. The VR glasses only swap the two sides.

My mother’s accusations that her grandchildren did not move enough because of all the daddling, did not come true during these Christmas holidays. One generally appeared sweaty and exhausted at mealtimes. At this point I have to take a little time to reflect: A year and a half ago I stopped making fun of people who go to the gym and started going to the gym. I got tired of Pokémon Go, and just lying in bed is too tiring even for me. Also, I like to read while walking, which is what this column was about. On a cross trainer, you don’t have a problem with dog poo. There is even a small shelf for reading.

In retrospect, it seems obvious that VR glasses and the gym were made for each other. On sports equipment you look so idiotic from the outside that you quickly learn not to worry about it. Everyone present just pretends that there is nothing to see and that perhaps no one is there at all – similar to the sauna, where it is good manners to behave as if everyone is dressed. So if there’s one place where the audience doesn’t have to get used to fiddling around in public, it’s the gym.

It’s also a very ugly place that has just been waiting to be given a new wall color by virtual reality. Lockers for the valuables and friendly attendants who make sure the house doesn’t burn down are also already there.


  • I still know very little about the new thing, but at least it is now clearer to me that its public use, if there will be one, will start in the gym.
  • For the time until that happens, I have procured a rental device. From the outside I look like a middle-aged columnist, inside I’m a person with two lightsabers.
  • And no one stands behind me anymore and shouts, “Can I have a go now?”