One of the pieces of technology that has inspired the most excitement in the recent past has been the Oculus Rift. People have tabbed it as the largest advancement in virtual reality ever and it has inspired the interest of many, including Mark Zuckerberg who recently acquired it. Though it is mostly used as a supplement to gaming for those who want to take it to the next level, I believe there is some real potential for the Oculus Rift outside the gaming world. It has the potential turn into something a whole lot bigger than it currently is.
To start with, Oculus Rift is a virtual reality display mounted on the user’s head and is intended to give the user the sense of complete immersion in whatever virtual environment the Oculus is putting them in. It completely surrounds the user’s field of vision, making it so that there is no frame of reference for the user to see other than that which is displayed on the Oculus screen. It is made even more immersive by the headphones that cover the user’s ears and shut out all other sounds, making it so that the person sees and hears only what is in the virtual environment. This kind of experience almost tricks the brain into thinking that it is in a completely new place, when you are simply sitting in your living room. It is supposed to be a very cool experience.
Now, the most obvious application for a tool like this is for gaming, and that is what they have done. The Oculus Rift is marketed as a new way to experience games like never before because it will basically put the gamer into the game, creating a more seamless and realistic experience for the gamer. Imagine being in the middle of your favorite game, doing all the things that you used to see characters on screen doing. This is exactly the illusion that the Oculus Rift tries to create. Recently, gamers reviewed a game called Adr1ft using the Oculus Rift. The game is set in space, and needless to say, the gamers were impressed. It gave them the feeling that they were floating away without gravity, just as you would in space. One user even ducked his head when he floated towards a ceiling that was not actually physically there. The use of virtual reality is powerful.
This got me thinking that it would be really cool to use virtual reality in a whole lot of other aspects of life. I believe that the Oculus Rift should and probably will be expanded to include more and more things in its virtual reality experience. It would allow people to go to museums and experience ancient excavation sites, like Pompeii, without even having to leave the classroom. You could purchase a virtual ticket to a concert and then it would seem like you were at the concert. This could do wonders for the music industry as they would then have no limit to the number of concert tickets that they could sell as the physical limits of the stadium or hall would no longer apply.
I recently saw an article showing how a Korean baseball team is experimenting with using robots at baseball games to replace fans who could not be at the game. The fans instead watch through a video screen that they have that is being fed to them through the robots. Now, as comical and sad as that may be, it does present the possibility of being able to watch sports through the Oculus Rift and making it seem like you were at the game cheering along with everyone else actually there. You could potentially “be” at huge games or events like say the Super Bowl. This would be every sports fan’s dream, and it is really just around the corner with virtual reality. The Oculus Rift presents a lot of cool potential opportunities, and I am excited to see what they have in store for us.
Now here’s a funny video of old people experiencing virtual reality via the Oculus Rift. Enjoy!