SILICON BEACH — The hours people spend playing video games, scrolling through social media posts and reading articles online soon will dramatically decrease, thanks to a product launched this week that allows users to explore virtual reality in a ‘state of timelessness’ once experienced only in dreams.
Representatives from Instant Industries announced Monday that they have developed a new device, ShareTime, through which users can participate in a ‘consensual consciousness’ that allows them to relive old memories, share new experiences, and maximize their productivity in cyberspace while minimizing the actual time spent pursuing their virtual endeavors.
ShareTime costs $299 per unit to activate with a $29 monthly service fee. It is placed in the ears when used and functions as an accessory to Instant’s’ Install pill, a personal nanite computing system which, when swallowed, diffuses into a user’s bloodstream and within a week augments that user’s brain’s computational abilities and makes external devices no longer necessary for the user to tap into the Web.
The Install pill costs $699 to activate and requires a $69 monthly service fee. The pill generated $50 billion in sales so far this year, making it the single most popular tech item currently available on the market.
Representatives from Instant claimed ShareTime will ensure their company continues to out-pace consumer tech competitors, such as Google and Apple, for at least another decade.
“ShareTime optimizes the virtual reality experience unlike anything else money can buy,” said Jay Tashiro, chief executive officer for Instant. “For a total initial investment of $1000, and for $100 in regular monthly service fees, users will have the ability to become exponentially more productive and fulfilled in their virtual lives. This, of course, will help users also become exponentially more productive and fulfilled in their real lives, by giving them more time to dedicate to either existence. We’re talking about a game-changing device that will help end the duality often at odds between our virtual and real selves and give people the opportunity to become more involved with their one true life, the only one that counts.”
Tashiro said the ShareTime hardware pulsates a signal through the ears and into users’ brains that induces a state of consciousness similar to lucid dreaming, whereby thoughts, directed individually or collectively, can have profound, emotionally-rich and positive results.
Like a lucid dream, Tashiro said much might happen while a ShareTime user is in the virtual state, but upon waking the user might find only seconds or minutes have passed compared to the hours people often report logging online.
Tashiro referred to a study that noted that youth up to the age of 21 spend on average 10,000 hours playing video games, approximately as much time as they spend in school.
With ShareTime, the actual time spent online can be reduced, so users can have more opportunity to address real-life priorities, and thus the device’s value can not be understated, according to experts.
“This technological breakthrough of ‘slowing’ time is really just an adjustment to how our minds perceive time,” said Alex Alzuri, a cognitive scientist at the University of California Los Angeles. “Machines are able to help us make this adjustment because of the way our brains are wired and can be manipulated to engage with the virtual world. Unfortunately, manipulating a person’s perception of time in the real world, and thus affecting what a person can accomplish outside virtual life, remains a challenge for humans and machines alike.”
Despite any perceived limitations of the device, ShareTime has been well received by many users, who lauded its benefits.
“My family loves it,” said Robin Boyle, 39, a mother of two girls, married to an animator, and all of whom are gamers among those selected to test ShareTime in the months prior to its release. “My kids used to spend hours playing Minecraft, often neglecting homework. My husband and I used to spend hours playing Final Fantasy after we put them to bed, often neglecting sleep. Now my kids are back on track in school, and my husband and I are getting all of the rest we need, and to top if off, ShareTime has livened up our sex life. Some nights we don’t even play video games at all.”
According to Alzuri, such mutual experiences are heightened using ShareTime because the device provides a pathway for ‘telepathic’ communication, a ‘co-mingling’ of consciousness that occurs within the ‘cloud’ or network formed between users’ minds.
“We’re not only talking about mind reading here, we’re talking about mind sharing, a way to let users build artificial mindscapes together based on some previous actuality — a memory, for example — but which might be morphed at will into a vision that is new, unique and awesome — in other words, make-believe,” said Alzuri. “This technology is going to revolutionize the way we communicate, work and live.”
Alzuri said he believes ShareTime may soon supplant popular social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, as Internet users seek more ‘visceral’ ways to interact with each other online.
“Why settle for an emoticon to express how you feel when you stumble across a former lover on a dating site, when you two could relive the most intimate moments of your affair, or even experience what it’s like to start fresh?” said Alzuri. “We’re entering a new era in which Internet users not only are able to connect and commiserate, but also have the tools necessary to explore new depths in their relationships.
“Now you can hike the Grand Canyon with your brother-in-law, surf Costa Rica with your old buddy from college, or really impress upper-management and stake out a mission to Mars with your co-workers — experiences you once might have shared or wanted to share, except now you can do so without a commensurate loss of time and resources in real life.”
Tashiro affirmed that his own experiences with social media provided the inspiration for ShareTime.
“For my 40th birthday, dozens of family, friends and colleagues posted well wishes for me on my timeline, and it actually made me sad,” said Tashiro. “Some of these people I’ve known since childhood, and unfortunately some of them I haven’t seen since then, either, yet there they were, faces from my past wishing me a wonderful year.
“I realized that social media in its current form often permits us to only keep up in the most superficial ways with those we care about, since our real lives are often too removed by time and space to do little more than offer each other an annual birthday wish, or a brief condolence when someone we know dies. In fact, I’ve often wondered if I’d ever have a genuinely satisfying encounter with some of these ‘friends’ again for the rest of my life.
“ShareTime might have many applications in the future, but for now, I hope it at least provides users with the chance to let some of those online relationships grow in ways no longer limited by circumstances.
“Who wouldn’t want to have a beer with their high school class clown, or skydive with their grandmother, if they had the time and knew it wouldn’t kill them?
“Thanks to ShareTime, ‘friends’ from now on will have the opportunity to be more to each other than an old familiar face.”
Arthur Benington, Sept. 21, 2020