The gap between virtual reality and sci-fi is shortening

“The gap between people dreaming things up in sci-fi and being able to build them in bits and atoms is shortening,” High Fidelity and Second Life founder Philip Rosedale said Tuesday at Gigaom’s Roadmap design conference.

High Fidelity uses webcam technology to create characters who can interact in virtual worlds. The webcam tracks facial movements, complete with eye contact and expressions, and mirrors that almost instantly in the virtual world so users are seeing how a person is actually reacting to whatever situation — just in an avatar form.

When asked about how science fiction informs his work, Rosedale admitted it was a big inspiration. “I look at science fiction as an instruction manual for virtual reality,” Rosedale said. “We’re only few years away from being able to build what people dream up.”

He elaborated by explaining that virtual reality would be a place where people could create these experiences. As computers become more powerful, we’ll be able to outdo what we think of as organic or natural in the real world. “The virtual worlds of tomorrow are going to be more, not less detailed than the real world of today,” Rosedale said.

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