Have won­der­ful ad­ven­tures without leav­ing your liv­ing room

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - To learn more, visit Con­sumerRe­ports.org.

Have you ever won­dered what it would be like to swim with sharks, per­form be­fore thou­sands of cheer­ing fans or walk on the moon? Vir­tual re­al­ity (VR) can make those mus­ings seem re­mark­ably real.

All you need is your smart­phone and a viewer as ba­sic as the $15 Google Card­board, ac­cord­ing to Con­sumer Re­ports. Or to feel im­mersed in the ac­tion, you could spend $600 on a state-of-the-art, gamer-friendly Ocu­lus Rift.

Con­sumer Re­ports pro­vides a few ex­am­ples of VR’s pos­si­bil­i­ties.

• Wildlife Ad­ven­ture: Myth­Busters: Shark Ship­wreck and Sharks Ev­ery­where!

One of the ap­peals of VR is that it al­lows you to visit dan­ger­ous places without putting your­self in dan­ger. This pair of 4-minute videos takes you un­der­wa­ter on a shark-in­fested dive to a ship­wreck in the Ba­hamas. Ev­ery­where you turn, it seems, you see the fins of reef sharks. The video is not as clear as could be, but the slow, rhyth­mic move­ments of the pre­his­toric preda­tors, the de­cay­ing ship car­cass and the sound of gur­gling scuba bub­bles make for a jour­ney cap­ti­vat­ing enough to have logged more than 12 mil­lion views on YouTube. Free on Google Card­board, Ocu­lus Rift and Sam­sung Gear VR apps.

• Doc­u­men­tary: 6x9: An Im­mer­sive Ex­pe­ri­ence of Soli­tary Con­fine­ment

At any time, roughly 80,000 peo­ple in the United States are held in soli­tary con­fine­ment. This doc­u­men­tary gives you an idea of their plight by im­mers­ing you in a Spar­tan 6-by-9-foot cell. Though the video is only nine min­utes long, changes in light and the sounds of clos­ing doors, drip­ping wa­ter and talk­ing prison guards cre­ate a sense of time pass­ing. Au­dio am­pli­fies the vis­ceral, dis­turb­ing na­ture of the vi­su­als: Six men and one woman who have ex­pe­ri­enced soli­tary con­fine­ment de­scribe the toll that it takes, and psy­chol­o­gists share pro­fes­sional in­sights on that form of pun­ish­ment. Free on Google Card­board

and Sam­sung Gear VR apps.

• Amuse­ment: Six Flags’ VR Roller Coast­ers

Want to take your next roller coaster ex­pe­ri­ence to even greater heights? At nine of the Six Flags amuse­ment parks, you board a roller coaster, don a Sam­sung Gear VR and watch a com­puter-gen­er­ated video synced to your real-life ride -- dips, climbs and all. When the VR craft you’re pi­lot­ing plunges 90 feet, so do you -- so there’s noth­ing vir­tual about the feel­ing of your stom­ach leap­ing to your throat. Con­sumer Re­ports found that the twists and turns are very real, but there are no sound ef­fects. Still, the added vis­ceral el­e­ment more than makes up for the lack of sound­track. Free with park ad­mis­sion on Sam­sung Gear VR app.

• Health: Per­fect Beach VR

This beau­ti­fully pro­duced app lets you es­cape to the beach without fight­ing traf­fic or get­ting sand in your swim­suit. Just don a pair of VR gog­gles and choose sand or pier, high noon or sun­set. You can chill out even more with guided med­i­ta­tion or just lie back and lis­ten to the crash­ing waves and the cries of seag­ulls. $3 on Google Card­board and Sam­sung Gear VR apps.

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