Virtual reality is expected to have a breakout year, but one place you definitely shouldn’t use your brand new VR headset is the Boston subway. The Boston Globe reported Friday (April 1) that a rider was filmed playing on what appears to be a Samsung Gear VR headset as they rode the Green Line train in Boston.
The video of the VR gamer was first uploaded to Reddit and shows a man pretty much completely cut off from his surroundings as he plays on a handheld controller. He even jumps and reacts to things that must have been going on in his game as he sat in a single seat on the train.
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) told the Boston Globe that this sort of activity was “not advisable,” as it would make riders less aware of what’s going on around them.“The MBTA and Transit Police remind customers of the importance of being aware of their surroundings at all times.” (Quartz has reached out to confirm the MBTA’s statement.)
One Boston police officer, Luke Taxter, posted a comment on Twitter in response to the video, saying it’s the exact opposite of how one should act on public transport, even calling the VR gamer a “soft target.” It probably would be pretty easy to have reached down into the gamer’s bag while he was distracted by the game he was playing.
Safety concerns aside, there’s a larger issue here that we haven’t had to deal with since the days of Google Glass: People look very silly wearing VR headsets in public, and probably will forever.