NPR logo Wearing VR Headsets In Public Is Now A (Very Awkward) Thing

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Wearing VR Headsets In Public Is Now A (Very Awkward) Thing

Virtual reality enthusiasts are drawing ire when they forget about actual reality. On public transit, in cafes and on sidewalks people wearing VR headsets are getting judged, hard.

With Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC Vive available for purchase and Sony PlayStation VR arriving in the fall, virtual reality is finding its way into the lives of tech enthusiasts with a little cash to spare.

I'm not sure when it became okay to wear a #VR headset in public #virtualreality #madison

A photo posted by Billy D (@bdan010) on

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Think about it this way: Wearing a VR headset is like wearing a paper bag over your head. A really exciting, immersive, interactive paper bag.

So it's uncouth, awkward and possibly dangerous. In Boston, mass transit officials said it was "not advisable" to wear VR devices while commuting.

"The MBTA and Transit Police remind customers of the importance of being aware of their surroundings at all times," Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority spokesman Joe Pesaturo told The Boston Globe. The statement came in response to a video posted online that appears to show a man riding the T while wearing a VR headset and playing a video game.

And it's not just buses and trains. Ben Kuchera, in a story in Polygon, described his experience using his Samsung Gear VR on a plane. He said it felt "very strange, and ... almost rude."

"It seemed almost weird to be sitting in tight space, whipping my head around to look at things only I could see," he wrote.

NPR's Avie Schneider contributed to this post.