Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Prepare them mentally for the journey, before they take a plunge into virtual reality

With a wide sweep of his hand, Mr. Armstrong gestured toward the conference table. Inlaid into its rosewood and mahogany grain was the company’s logo: a shield with two crossed swords.
Sitting down, Michael found himself swallowed up into an overstuffed leather armchair. His palms were clammy, which forced him to wipe them off on his pants under the table. In its burnished top, the president’s reflection slid across the surface, upside down. 
“I appreciate people who come into my office and give me their best advice, even if it makes them uncomfortable,” said Mr. Armstrong. “I thought you might be candid with me today.”
“What d’you want me to tell you?”
“Everything you know.” 
“Where, exactly, shall I start?”
Mr. Armstrong slammed his fist on the table, until the shield and cross-swords seemed to clack. “Start with your partner. What’s her name, again?”
“She’s an industrial designer, is she not?”
“The best! Our startup would not have been the success it was without Ash—”
“Perhaps so. But at this point, do we need her?”
“Excuse me, sir?”
“Given the new direction here,” said Mr. Armstrong, in a slow, grumbling tone as if talking to a rebellious child, “she can contribute little from now on.”
“I beg to differ,” said Michael, his muscles stiffening. “Given any direction, her role is vital. May I explain it to you, sir?”
“Please do.”
“For the customers of this company—say, military planners, or soldiers in training—virtual reality provides an uncanny sense of immersion. It tricks their brains into believing they are walking on that narrow beam high above an enemy city or riding an amphibious vehicle up the shore, anticipating an imminent attack. Ash did amazing work extending the immersive qualities and emotional impact of this experience, even before putting on the headset and long after taking it off.”
“And how did she do that?”
“By having participants step inside a physical environment, with props that were designed by her. It resembles a cross between an art installation and a minimalist stage production. Entering it prepares them mentally for the journey, before they take a plunge into virtual reality.”

Virtually Lace

(Volume I of High-Tech Crime Solvers)

Paperback  Hardcover


Haunted by discovering the body of a beautiful dancer, Michael creates a virtual reality simulation of her murder. Can he bring the mystery to life? Can he solve it in time, before the killer turns on the woman he loves, Ash?

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