In Ray Bradbury’s classic 1950 short story The Veldt, the line between truth and lie is lethally crossed by two children, who bring a virtual reality scene of ravenous lions to life. Microsoft’s Hololens boasts similarly unique capabilities. Hololens harnesses light and electricity to map holographic images onto the material (i.e., “real) world.
Holograms, of course, are three-dimensional pictures made entirely of light. Microsoft’s product, worn as a headset, superimposes these pictures on the immediate environment, augmenting reality with 3D images as small as sticky notes or as large as lions. These non-physical objects, according to the company, “can be viewed from different angles and distances, but they do not offer any physical resistance when touched or pushed because they don’t have any mass.”
The device can bring Australia’s Great Barrier Reef into your home, letting you explore the wonders of aquatic flora and fauna. Woefully, of course, the experience is a lie. The Great Barrier Reef is in the Coral Sea, not in your living room. But such lies are valuable, because the Great Barrier Reef cannot fit in your home—and you cannot breathe underwater.
This new medium, when fully developed, will create lies that allow us to expand our perceptions, and experience places and situations that are otherwise inaccessible—and in some cases, should probably remain so.