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Optical Illusions Show How VR Could Trick Our Brains

Our brains are flawed, and that's why virtual reality will work according to Oculus Rift head scientist Michael Abrash.
March 27, 2015, 10:45pm
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Virtual reality will trick our easily-fooled brains into believing it's actual reality, according to Oculus Rift's head scientist, Michael Abrash. His proof? Optical illusions.

At F8, Facebook's annual conference in San Francisco, Abrash quoted the red pill monologue from The Matrix, saying, “If real is what you can feel, smell, taste, and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” He then ran through a series of illusions, ranging from the classic warped checkerboard to a Matrix-themed mental manipulations showing that it doesn't matter whether we choose the red or the blue pill—if they're both grey. If he's right, these types of tricks will help push virtual reality over the edge into close-to-real experiences. Below, check out the illusions that, as Abrash puts it, "[have] the potential to change almost everything about the way we live."

Without the context of the colors around them, the pills seem to transform from red and blue to the same shade of grey.

The squares on these five-sided Rubik's cubes are also the same shade of grey, despite clearly looking blue and yellow.

This checkerboard looks warped and chaotic—until your eyes make it to the right side of the image. Follow the lines from right to left and you'll realize the only difference are the black and white dots in each corner.

We swear these table tops are exactlthe same size and shape. Read about Shepard's tables to see why that's so hard to believe.


The eye's tendancy to compensate for percieved lights and shadows are useful in the real world, but can be deceptive in the virtual.

This paper dinosaur isn't actually turning its head, no matter what your eyes tell you.

Watch Michael Abrash's full speech on YouTube.


Via Quartz


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