How Does Virtual Reality Tricks Your Brain?

Trusty: Hello Smarty listeners. This message goes out to all the teachers, principals, teacher’s assistants, and school librarians. First of all, thank you, thank you. Thank you for all you do as educators. To show our gratitude for all your hard work, long hours, and dedication to teaching, we are now offering free Who Smarted Plus subscriptions for all educators. That’s right. You can now play Who Smarted without any ads or interruptions in your classroom to help make learning fun and keep the smarting going during break times, lunchtimes or anytime. Who Smarted can even be used to satisfy some common core curriculum or as part of assignments or lessons. If you’re an educator, just go to and click Educators. And Smarty Pants and Smarty Parents, please feel free to let your teachers know about this. Again, that’s Click Educators for Free Subscriptions to Who Smarted Plus, let’s all get smarted together.

Chris: Sometimes feeding yourself and your loved ones can seem impossible. The good news is you are not alone.
Speaker 1: I just have a lot of anxiety around working with Dough.
Speaker 2: It just really did not turn out anything like I expected.
Chris: I’m Chris Morocco, food director of Bon Appetit and Epicurus and host of the dinner SOS podcast. Each week on the podcast, I help a listener tackle a dinner emergency.
Speaker 2: My partner Kyle, is the successful hunter and fishermen, and now we have 90 pounds of loose meat
Chris: With help from culinary experts in and out of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen. We get our callers, the solutions they need to get cooking.
Speaker 2: Love to be of service. You know, I love a WellTalk pantry, so I’m going to be ready for this one.
Chris: Listen to Dinner SOS wherever you get your podcast. Just follow the show so you never miss an episode.

Trusty: And now it’s time for Who Smarted. Hey, there’s Smarty Pants, Trusty [inaudible 01:11] here, and right now I am in the third largest country on earth about to take a walk on the longest wall on the planet. Are you able to figure it out, Smarties? Why? I’m at the Great Wall of China in China. How cool is that? That’s not all. I’m also going to visit the giant pandas in the Beijing Zoo. They’re so cute. And now I’m headed to the Forbidden City, which is a palace complex in the center of the imperial city of Beijing. Wow, China sure is incredible to look at. But you know what’s the most incredible thing about all of this Smarty Pants? I’m not actually here. I mean there. I mean, in China, I’m actually standing in my bedroom wearing some weird goggles that are connected to my computer any guesses what I’m talking about. Did you say virtual reality? That’s right.
Thanks to cutting edge technology called Virtual Reality or VR for short. All you or I need to visit anywhere in the world or the universe for that matter, is a special headset like the one I’m wearing and some fancy software. Thanks to VR, you can create sight sounds and sensations. So realistic, you’ll swear you’re there.
Unknown: Whoa.
Trusty: Now, funny you Smarty Pants may already know what I’m talking about if you play games on Roblox, because a lot of those games can be played in virtual reality and your adults may know about VR if they’ve ever taken a virtual tour of a foreign country like I just did, to decide if they want to go there on vacation.
The tourism business is just one of many industries that have been changed forever by VR technology. Woohoo. I’m swimming with dolphins in The Bahamas. Now, I’m visiting the Taj Mahal in India. Oh, and now an outside Buckingham palace in the UK, all with the push of a button. Today, about 170 million people use VR technology, and over half a billion new VR headsets are expected to be sold by 2025. So, now’s the perfect time to learn more about it. Like how does virtual reality work? What was it like when it was first invented? What else are people using it for and what’s virtual reality to look in the future. Get Ready Smarty Pants because stuff is about to get real or so close to real, you won’t be able to tell the difference.

It’s time for another whiff of history and science on:
Theme song
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When it comes to brand new technology, Smarty Pants, I, your humble, trusting Trusty am not the hugest expert. So, for our exploration into virtual reality, I’ve enlisted the aid of my virtual assistant, Iris, that’s Siri backwards, by the way. Hi, Iris.
Iris: Hello, Trusty narrator, how can I be of assistance?
Trusty: Well, for starters, please tell us your definition of virtual reality.
Iris: Virtual reality is the use of computer technology to create a simulated three-dimensional world that a person can interact with and explore while feeling like they’re actually in that world.
Trusty: Smarty Pants, there’s a special word for feeling like you’re actually part of a virtual world. Is that word immersion, implosion, or indoctrination? The answer is immersion.
Immersion means feeling incredibly absorbed. I don’t know about you, but I definitely get that feeling when I’m playing a video game, even when it’s not in virtual reality. So, I can just imagine how absorbed I’d feel if I was.
Iris: The goal of virtual reality is to make you forget where you really are. One way it does that is by letting you interact with your virtual world. For example, with good virtual reality, if you see a glass of water on a table, you can walk over, pick it up and bring it to your mouth just like you’re going to drink it.
Trusty: So, Iris, how does VR water taste?
Iris: There is no taste because you are not able to actually drink it. Technology hasn’t gotten that far yet, but perhaps one day
Trusty: I’ve heard virtual reality can cause something called cyber sickness. That doesn’t sound good. What causes cyber sickness, Smarty Pants?
Is it
A—When you see something in virtual reality that you’re allergic to in real life ?
B—When there’s a delay between when you move your eyes and when your virtual reality world changes what you see? Or,
C—When you catch a cold from the last person who wore the virtual reality headset? The answer is B.
Iris: When there’s a delay between when you do something in virtual reality like walking, and when you see it happening, you experience something called swimming. This is what causes a kind of motion sickness known as cyber sickness. Scientists have found people will notice a delay, even if it’s just 15 milliseconds, which is only about half as long as it takes you to blink.
Trusty: That just shows you how connected your eyes and brain are. Smarty Pants, true or false, VR is brand new technology that hasn’t been around very long? The answer, surprisingly is false. Iris, how long has VR been around?
Iris: Virtual reality has been around for 60 years.
Trusty: Sixty! Did you say 60 years?
Iris: Yes, 60.
Trusty: Wait. That means we’re talking the 1960s. But how can that be? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s fire up the old teleporter to take us back to the future of technology, which is when exactly Iris
Iris: 1962 should be sufficient.
Trusty: 1962, here we come. Whoa. What’s that machine, Iris? It looks like an old arcade video game.
Iris: Behold, the Sensoria, this machine made by Morton Heiling let people experience movies through four of their five senses. If you stick your head through the opening in the front, you’ll see a movie that makes it look like you are riding a motorcycle through New York City.
Trusty: Wow. It’s kind of like 3D Mario Kart. The picture’s all around me. It really feels like I’m riding a motorcycle.
Iris: But it’s not just about what you see and hear. Take a whiff.
Trusty: Ewe. I smell the exhaust from the bus in front of me. Oh. And now I can smell the pizza from the pizzeria I just passed.
Iris: What about your sense of touch?
Trusty: I can feel the wind blowing through my hair and my seat is bouncing from this bumpy street. Oh, I’m very impressed, Iris. This Sensorama machine is very realistic.
Iris: It was way ahead of its time.
Trusty: Any chance I can go back to the pizzeria and try the pizza?
Iris: No. The only basic sense you can’t sense is taste.
Trusty: Oh, of course. We can’t even do that with the VR today. Anyway, I can see why this would get people excited about virtual reality. So, what came next, Iris?
Iris: The first headsets or head-mounted displays were invented in the 1960s and pretty soon the biggest users of virtual reality technology were….
Trusty: Any guess of Smarty Pants? Here are two hints.
[That’s one small step for man]
If you said NASA and the military, you’re right. Smarty Pants, what do you think NASA wanted to use virtual reality for? If you said flight simulators, you’re pretty sharp. What better way to train astronauts to fly the space shuttle than in a virtually identical copier one?
Iris: NASA still uses virtual reality today. Astronauts can practice controlling a robotic arm through their own movements.
Trusty: Oh, sort of like the we…
Iris: Yes. One day scientists may be able to use this technology to operate instruments millions of miles away on Mars.
Trusty: Wow. I can’t wait, Iris.
Iris: Actually, there’s no reason to wait Trusty. Virtual reality is already being used in our daily lives.
Trusty: Really?
Iris: For example, did you know doctors can use virtual reality to practice complicated surgeries ahead of time?
Trusty: No way. Did you know that Smarty Pants?
Iris: By making 3D virtual models of a patient’s body, they can decide the best way to operate and then they can practice the surgery over and over again.
Trusty: Practice makes perfect. Iris, where else is VR used?
Iris: I’ll show you. Teleport us to a courtroom.
Trusty: Hey, why are these jurors wearing virtual reality headsets? Any guesses Smarty Pants? I don’t think it’s to play Roblox games.
Iris: They’re being shown a crime scene in 3D virtual reality. This way they can visualize how things might have happened.
Trusty: Wow. I can see how that would help jurors make better informed decisions. Anything else?
Iris: Yes. Here’s a hint.
Trusty: Hmm. Sounds like a factory.
Iris: It is, an auto making factory to be precise. Automakers can build a virtual car before building a real one so they can see ahead of time what problems they might encounter.
Trusty: Wow. Those are some real Smarty Pants, right? Smarty Pants? Of course. That’s just what’s happening with virtual reality. Now, the really exciting thing is what’s going to happen next?
Iris: That I can tell you Trusty.
Trusty: Great. I can’t wait to take a tantalizing glimpse of the future of VR right after this Quick break.

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Hi parents. Trusty here like you, I’ve got a lot on my plate. And as much as I love cooking what ends up on my dinner plate, sometimes I’m stuck in the studio on a tight deadline or simply not in the mood for dishes. That’s when Factor becomes my superhero, delivering delicious chef crafted meals that fit perfectly into my life. And they’re ready in 2-minutes or less. Even better, with 35 meals to choose from each week. Factor is designed to fit into any eating approach, keto high protein, calorie smarter, just plain, delicious. So, I can eat well and hit my macros and spend less than takeout.
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Trusty: Now, back to Who Smarted. My virtual assistant Iris has promised to tell us what virtual reality will look like in the future. Now, Iris, you aren’t talking about…?
Iris: I am.
Trusty: You don’t mean?
Iris: I do.
Trusty: The Metaverse. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the Metaverse these days. Smarty Pants, what do you think that is? Don’t feel bad if you have no idea. Because the real isn’t a right or wrong answer. Yes. Right, Iris?
Iris: That’s true. When most people talk about the Metaverse, they’re imagining a huge network of three dimensional virtual worlds all linked to together. A place where people can meet up, work, and play games together. Kind of like if the internet of today was 3D and you could live inside it.
Or at the very least, feel like you are living inside it, thanks to virtual reality.
Trusty: Okay. Iris, I think you just blew my mind. Are you saying that in the future when I shop online, I’ll be able to just walk into a virtual store and try on clothes?
Iris: Correct. Your friends could even join you.
[Wow, Trusty. That virtual shirt looks virtually good on you]
Iris: Or you could just hang out with friends or have a work meeting with everyone’s avatar just sitting around a virtual table.
Trusty: Ah, there’s that word. Smarty Pants, what do you think an avatar is? Besides two of the highest grossing movies of all time with three more on the way. Is it A, a High-Tech Pen, B, a Cute Robot Animal or C, an image you use to represent yourself in cyberspace? If you said the last one, you’re right. Experts think avatars are going to be everywhere in the Metaverse. Iris, is the metaverse going to be like one big video game like Sims or something else?
Iris: Perhaps. But like you said, it’s too early to know exactly what the metaverse is going to look like. That’s like trying to guess what the internet would turn into way back in 1985.
Trusty: Well, either way, I’m excited. Iris, when is the Metaverse going to be here?
Iris: Sorry Trusty, but we’re years away from your metaverse dreams coming true.
[Grumbling sound]
There’s still much more technology that needs to be worked out. Plus, while roughly 200 million people have virtual reality headsets, that’s only around 2% of the whole world.
Trusty: Gotcha. Well, while we’re waiting, shall we take another ride in the Sensorama? Oof. PU, must be garbage day.
Iris: I’m glad I can’t smell

A big shout out to super smarty fan Noah in Carlisle England. According to our research, Noah listens to four, no make that five episodes of Who Smarted every night. We hear you even know them by heart. Well, that just makes my heart happy. Thanks Noah and your dad for smarting with us. This episode, virtual Reality was written by Steve Metaverse Melcher and voiced by Jenna Hologram Ovid and Jerry Colbert, technical Direction, and sound design by Josh Headset Han, who Smarted is recorded and mix at the Relic Room Studios. Our associate producer is Max Multiverse Kaminski. The theme song is by Brian Cyber Suarez, with lyrics written and performed by Adam Digital Davis. Who Smarted was created and produced by Adam ‘Tex’ Davis and Jerry Colbert. This has been an Atomic Entertainment production.