Reading in virtual reality

E-readers are divisive devices.
Fans will say the positives outweigh the negatives.

That substituting paper for a screen is a small price to pay for not having to slog the new John Grisham hardback all the way to Greece and back.

That having access to tens of thousands of books on the fly is the ultimate way to appreciate reading.

But there’s a contingent of book lovers that seem forever turned off by e-reading.

Ask those devout non-users why they don’t use a Kindle, or Nook, and you’ll probably hear the something like the following:

“I like the smell of a REAL book.
I like how it feels in my hands.”

Whilst current e-reader tech isn’t quite up the the task of recreating that particular new book smell (or old book must, if that’s your thing), there’s a piece of emerging technology that could potentially make the e-reading experience more tangible…

Virtual Reality.

The resurgence of VR – led by the likes of Sony, Samsung and Occulus – has until now been pre-occupied with aping the amazing.

Games and apps that put users in high-thrill situations have been the staple of keynotes and press conferences, but it won’t be long before VR settles into its stride and we start to see other creative applications.

Like mimicking the experience of reading, for example.

Imagine holding a Kindle in your hands.

But when you look down at it, that matt black plastic shell is replaced with a beautifully worn leather-bound book.

Now imagine looking up from that leather-bound book, and instead of seeing the inside of a train carriage, you’re actually sat in front of a roaring fire.

In a castle perched above the Austrian countryside.

And instead of tapping a screen to turn a page, you motion with your hand, just like you would with a real book.

In fact you wouldn’t even need an e-reader at all.

Haptic gloves could simulate the tactile response of turning a page.

VR is still in its infancy, and many users have complained of motion sickness and headaches.

But if developers can get past these issues, there’d be no reason why you couldn’t read a whole book, in a setting of your choosing.

‘Harry Potter’ inside of a virtual Hogwarts.

‘Of Mice and Men’ in a 1920’s bunkhouse.

The possibilities are endless.