EtherDrop: a new life, a thousand worlds, infinite chances

The drop-net changed everything. The world had been slipping into despair, and we had lost sight of the things that humanity was truly capable of: insight, ambition, inventiveness. Everyday we woke up, looked at our computers and phones and tablets, and sighed with the feeling that the fate of the world had grown far beyond what anyone could do to fix it.

But Hiroki Sato never stopped believing in us, and when his smiling face was on the front page of the BBC news site I knew he’d done it, and it was something big. I’d been following the rumors and tactical news releases on Sato’s big project for almost a decade. At the beginning he’d called it Project Dolphin, as an homage to the codename for the GameCube back in the 90s, I suppose. And really that’s what got me interested. Hiroki Sato was a gamer just like I was, and just like me he had always dreamed of a day when we could put on a headset and engage in fully immersive, virtual reality gaming.

What he announced hit front pages all over the world and changed the way we lived. He called it EtherDrop, and you used it to access a fully online virtual environment he called the “drop-net.” Sato said he wanted everyone to be able to enjoy this escape from the horrors of daily life in what he described as “a world that has lost it’s hope.”

“Gaming,” he said, "has always been my way of renewing my optimism and finding drive to go on. Especially online gaming. People come together, work together, and defeat huge bosses! Or we compete with other players from around the world to be the fastest race car driver, or the best pilot. It’s exciting! Rewarding. And when I started working on what was then Project Dolphin, that’s what it was all about: sharing that feeling with others.

“But it became something more. As I developed EtherDrop—as I made it more and more immersive—I began to see the unlimited potential of the platform. From business executives who want to have a face-to-face teleconference, to reporters and historians who can visit virtual reconstructions of battlefields. I never forgot about the gamers though, and the true beauty of the system is revealed only when playing games with others….”

A month later, when the first beta units came out, I camped out in front of the store to get the first one. It was amazing. You slipped the visor over your eyes and ears, and a band held a second piece against your neck, at the base of the skull. As soon as you powered it on, calibrated it, and dropped into the drop-net, you truly felt that you were in another world. A world where you could be anything you wanted, limited only by the available software.

And now, after two years of ceaseless development, EtherDrop is better than ever. As is the world. Hiroki Sato imagined a world where everyone would own an EtherDrop system, a world where hope and dreams were only the flip of a switch away. And I believe he would be proud of the people we have become. If only he could see how his virtual universe has helped the people of Earth cherish our own world, and the people living on it. He really did change everything.


LeOban DrewT