A Hodgepodge Submission
In the fall of 2013, after a lot of thought, I stepped onto a stage as Triesste for the first time, with no idea of what how people would react. Over five years and dozens of performances later, I can say that there have been moments of total bliss, sheer terror, and utter confusion.
One of the many eye-opening takeaways from my experiences has been that no matter what we tell ourselves or how much we might think otherwise, our interactions with others also influence our self-image. In other words, the way we are treated has an effect on the way we view ourselves. Even if it’s that moment in a dark club when someone gives you “that look,” it validates, or in some cases negates how we think about ourselves.
That makes it all the more unfortunate then, that so many in the TV/CD community are unable or unwilling to take that step-often for perfectly valid reasons. To let the world see who we are inside and to the sharks with the consequences. For that and other reasons as well, although I am not a gamer, I have one online game that I play from time to time. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the developments in VR-Virtual Reality.
One of the main problems in VR has been latency-the difference between the time you trigger an action in VR and the time it actually happens. If you recall those old Chinese kung-fu movies, where someone is speaking and it’s totally disconnected from the words you’re hearing-it’s something like that.
Several recent developments have begun to close that gap. In 2013, the Oculus Rift VR headset made its debut with improved tracking and resolution. A year later, a second version was released. I even attempted to contact one of the founders, Brendan Iribe, to get his thoughts on this article; but unfortunately, I didn`t get a reply. Anyway, in my opinion the intersection where VR and AI-Artificial Intelligence meet has applications for a wide range of social applications.
In Japan there is a class of people called Hikkomori. They suffer what would be called Social Withdrawal Syndrome in the West. They live with their families, stay in their rooms, and refuse to interact with the outside world, sometimes for years. There are also PTSD victims and agoraphobics, all who could be helped by controlled-yet realistic-socialization programs.
That is where the AI component is so important. A real social environment is not only interactive, but inter-reactive. People meet you, interact with you and remember the interaction and vice versa. Rather than run through a program, AI offers the possibility to have a realistic social experience, but without the risks of doing it in the physical world. Of course, the world is also a tactile experience. A hug, a kiss on the hand-these are all social cues. The technological leap from a kiss on the hand through a pair of goggles, and actually feeling it on your hand, is a formidable one.
A longtime friend, who was interviewed in Wire magazine last year, has indicated that there are devices couples can use online where one partner can control the “pleasure button” for the other partner. But for now, the gaming industry rules the resources.
Another big step is in the development of 5G technology. It is actually a combination of several sub-technologies, but the benefits are improved resolution and less latency. As it becomes more affordable and more widespread, the applications will improve the VR experience.
I don’t think anyone can say for certain when or even if any of this will happen. I should also say that I am by no means an example of someone who boldly goes where no crossdresser has gone before-anything but. Moreover, I don’t believe that any technological advanced offerings will replace being out and about, meeting real people, and having real experiences. But for building confidence, social skills, and getting a head start on the day when it’s time to meet the world as the person you are inside, immersive VR holds a lot of potential benefit. I hope the day when it is available to us comes soon.
More Articles by The Author
- An interview with Triesste and Skip
- Frock of Ages
- All dressed up with somewhere to go
- Being Our True Selves-in a Virtual World