A successful attempt at a virtual reality world record by leading multimedia technology company Cyberlink Corp last week doubled up as an intriguing experiment into the effects of viewing VR content over long periods.
With the help of two dedicated New-York based volunteers, Team CyberLink achieved the title for the Longest marathon watching virtual reality (VR) on Saturday after the duo endured a 50-hour non-stop viewing session using virtual reality headsets.
Taking place in New York City’s West Village, volunteers Alejandro “AJ” Fragoso, 26, and London-born Alex Christison, 37, watched back-to-back movie and 360°-degree titles such as “Stranger Things | Virtual Reality / 360 Experience,” “KONG VR: Destination Skull Island,” as well as the award-winning 360-degree short film “INVASION!” from Baobab Studios.
For the attempt, the virtual content was played using CyberLink’s flagship PowerDVD, Oculus Rift headsets and VR-ready notebooks.
Setting the bar for any future challengers, Alejandro “AJ” Fragoso, was no stranger to record breaking or marathon viewing sessions.
The movie-lover returned once again for this CyberLink record attempt after establishing a Guinness World Records title last year for the Longest marathon watching television after viewing a 94-hour non-stop stream of TV using an earlier version of PowerDVD.
"The VR headset added a new twist to the previous challenge; I felt cut off from the real world and the passage of time. It's a surreal experience," said Fragoso. "PowerDVD 17's VR mode was like walking into my own personal, big screen theatre. I could look around the virtual environment and soak in the seemingly huge movie screen. This is how everyone should watch movies – there is no comparison!"
Fellow participant Alex helped CyberLink capture a 360° first-person experience of the New York City Marathon in 2016, but that would prove to be little preparation for the gruelling challenge this record title presented.
“I had no idea just how difficult it would be to complete this VR movie marathon,” said Christison. “Being completely immersed for such a long time was a huge mental strain. It was also physically demanding but an incredibly forward-looking experience.”
As part of the requirements of the attempt, a doctor had to be on site to monitor the participants at all times.
This served as a dual purpose for both the safety of the participants as well as well as offering an insight as to what virtual reality can do to one’s cognitive functions when viewing VR content over a long period.
Dr. Robert Glatter, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, conducted regular physical check-ups of the duo throughout the attempt.
His findings indicated that both participant’s heart rates elevated after a prolonged period of sleeplessness, and both experienced neurological side-effects such as an increased frequency of involuntary open-eyed “micronaps” and acute hallucinations.
"This challenge offered by CyberLink was a fascinating opportunity to review the effects of prolonged immersion in VR on someone’s health,” said Dr. Robert Glatter. “There has been a lot of speculation about the impact of VR on a person’s health, but there are few studies that have examined its effects in a controlled environment. Both AJ and Alex put themselves through an incredible test of endurance, pushing their bodies to the limit with impressive results.”