Virtual reality has been the subject of science fiction for many years. Tron, The Lawnmower Man, and the recent Ender’s Game have entertained and astonished audiences with their ideas and depiction of virtual reality, of the possibility of exploring worlds with sensory experiences intact.
There were some false starts in the 1990s, but companies are exploring the possibility of a peripheral that will allow us to experience virtual reality. One of the pioneers of this technology in the modern era is Oculus VR with its virtual reality headset called the Oculus Rift.
The Oculus Rift began life as an ambitious Kickstarter campaign seeking $250,000 so that it could change the way that people thought about video games. In the end the project raised almost $2.5 million. The headset enables users to step into a world and see it as if they were really there. It features a wide field of view, a high resolution display and ultra-low latency head tracking, so it replicates the experience of looking around as in real life.
Originally, the Oculus Rift was intended for gamers. An Oculus-ready version of Doom was created specifically for developer versions of the headset, statements from video game industry leaders were used as testimonials, and the headset was shown off at gaming industry conventions and fairs.
Since then, it has expanded its appeal and it’s clearly been taken seriously since its humble arrival in 2012.Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it had agreed to buy Oculus VR for $400 million in cash, $1.6 billion in Facebook stock, and an additional $300 million subject to Oculus VR’s meeting certain financial targets.
Its plans for the virtual reality headset have not been announced, but it indicates that there are possibilities that may not have been considered before. In fact, we are already seeing potentially unexpected uses for the Oculus Rift.
The recent Game of Thrones exhibition that was held in Belfast allowed visitors to try out the Oculus Rift headset first hand. The dedicated interactive section saw those in attendance ‘climbing the wall’ by riding an elevator at Castle Black.
Meanwhile, retailer Topshop is partnering with 3D agency Inition to enable fans to experience a virtual front-row seat at London Fashion Week. The virtual reality experience incorporates Oculus Rift, live streamed HD footage and 360-degree photography to make it seem like fans are actually there.
Other companies have been working on companion products for the Oculus Rift. If video game players want to take their experience that bit further, for example, they can pick up an omnidirectional treadmill so that they can be even more immersed when they explore an in-game world.
The Oculus Rift has also been used in special needs education in Australia, enabled a dying grandmother to walk outside again, and could potentially be used in anxiety and phobia treatment, or as therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. From a consumer point of view, the Oculus Rift could be a fantastic accessory for gaming, but its scope reaches far beyond that.Virtual reality certainly looks tohave a diverse and bright future ahead of it.
The consumer version of the Oculus Rift will be released later this year. It will be on its way to Ireland soon and we will have a detailed review once we get our hands on it.
In Short: The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will be released later this year, so here is some clarification as to what it is, who it’s for and what it can do.