Virtual Reality is the Next Frontier

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On March 25, 2014 Facebook announced it had purchased Occulus Rift for a stunning $2 bilion. Many in the tech industry where shocked by the announcement, some felt miffed whilst others treated it with cautious optimism.

For those who might be wondering what is Occulus Rift, here’s a brief breakdown below.

Occulus Rift is a virtual reality company, that started off on kickstarter. 

As you can see from the above link, it easily shattered its fund raising expectations, bringing in over 2 million dollars from independent backers. It basically is a head mounted display that allows the wearer to be immersed in a virtual creation, and whilst the founder Palmer Luckey initially intended it to solely function as a gaming device, it has slowly been morphing into more than that, showing that virtual reality has a lot of applications in our world today.

What is Virtual Reality you might ask?

According to this, “Virtual reality is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.”

In layman’s terms, Virtual reality allows the user to interact in the virtual world he or she is immersed in.

As a kid, I remember one of the first movies that awed me was lawnmower man. I have provided a trailer for said movie, apologies in advance for how seedy it looks. The movie is quite dated now.

Lawn Mower Man trailer

The premise is a bit ridiculous, but basically this goes to show that Virtual Reality isn’t some new technology. In fact its been around for quite a while. Its just now, with Occulus Rift and a bevy of other big tech companies on board, it seems to finally be getting the acclaim it deserves.

Why would Facebook be interested in such?

Facebook is a company that is primarily concerned with data, and by data I mean social data. The more hours people spend on Facebook and its subsidiaries like Instagram and Whatsapp, the more they can sell said data. From all indications, Occulus Rift is going to be another property that should have similar effect. Currently the development kit goes for $350, which is less than Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. By the time Facebook gets the product into final development and out to the public, the price should be even cheaper. That can only bode well for anyone who is yearning to get their hands on this technology. The cheaper it is, the more affordable it becomes.

Whilst this post has predominantly focused on the Occulus Rift, it should be made clear that Facebook and the Occulus Rift are not the only names in the Virtual Reality ring. Sony announced that its Morpheus headset would be working with its Playstation rig to bring the Virtual Reality experience to users. Also Samsung has talked about users being able to use future versions of its phones or tablets to experience V.R. as it is popularly called. Its only a matter of time before other companies jump on the wagon.

What Does Virtual Reality Mean For You?

As story tellers, V.R. opens up a world of possibilities for us. Not only does gaming become more immersive, but so does other technology. Can you imagine being able to participate in your favorite show? I envision detective or procedural shows where the user can actually engage and solve crimes. I think of sporting events and concerts where the user can be in their home yet experience these events like they were there in the flesh. With the 360 view Occulus provides, being in the moment takes on a whole new meaning.

In closing I leave you with this video, of this guy who got his first taste of Virtual reality. He seems pretty thrilled after wards. That’s how I feel every time I think about the possibilities for this technology. The future is here, and this is the new frontier.

REFERENCES

Facebook Buys Oculus Rift For $2 Billion. (n.d.). Kotaku. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://kotaku.com/facebook-buys-oculus-rift-for-2-billion-1551487939

Leonard, B. (Director). (1992). Lawn Mower Man USA: New Line Cinema.

Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game. (n.d.). Kickstarter. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1523379957/oculus-rift-step-into-the-game

What is Virtual Reality?. (n.d.). What is Virtual Reality Definition of Virtual Reality. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/what-is-virtual-reality.html

Using the PlayStation 4’s virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus (update: now with video!). (n.d.). Engadget. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/19/project-morpheus-hands-on/

Samsung is working with Oculus on a media-focused VR headset. (n.d.). Engadget. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://www.engadget.com/2014/05/30/samsung-oculus-partnership/

This Russian Guy Just Filmed The Best Oculus Rift Reaction Video. (n.d.). UPROXX RSS. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://uproxx.com/gammasquad/2014/04/russian-oculus-rift-reaction-roller-coaster-prank/

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5 thoughts on “Virtual Reality is the Next Frontier

  1. OMG- I remember the Lawn Mower Man. I loved that film! At the time it was released it looked like such cool, yet far away technological frontier. And here it is, literally around a virtual corner of our Facebook experience. I think that virtual reality is such a potent platform for digital storytelling, and I can’t wait to see how we are populating that fronts with new ways to share experiences and tell stories.

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  2. Like all digital tools, I think Virtual Reality has the ability to wither enhance our human experience or take away from it. I would hate to think that I would opt to stay in and watch a concert, ride a roller coaster, or launch off a diving board in virtual reality and not, you know, reality reality, but I love the idea that people who would normally not have the means may be able to experience something incredible that sparks their creativity.

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    • This is a very valid point and one we need to consider with technology and the progress that comes with it. We give up certain experiences to be able to enjoy such, and you just mentioned what could definitely be a draw back of virtual reality. On the other hand, I have read about someone who couldn’t walk, getting a chance to replicate the feeling through VR. I have also seen old war veterans, simulate their war time flights (minus the shootings in the air), given them another chance to be in a plane. There will be advantages and disadvantages of such but I look forward to where it leads us.

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  3. Virtual reality has been a technology I’ve been fascinated by since I was a child. When gaming companies first came out with the concept of a virtual roller coaster, I thought it was the best experience without having to go to an amusement park. It has evolved in a short time span. Now that Facebook is engineering a way to utilizing it for computer gaming is a remarkable concept. Granted that it could be destructive in some cases, I am intrigued to see how it can be utilized. For storytelling the concept is endless and hopefully it can be used to make powerful impacts.

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  4. I wonder if virtual technology will become a trend in the health world. It could probably used to rehab people or mentally stimulate those that have trouble with social interaction. That could also backfire, where people become too dependent on technology and lose touch of social interaction. You mentioned being able to live out your own show… I can tell you right now, that would NOT be good news for me. I would spend all my free time pretending I was on these shows and skip social time with friends. I’m curious to see this hit the main market and how much people will rant and rave about its effects.

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