The year was 1992 and the most amazing tech I had ever seen burst onto the screen in the form of The Lawnmower man, which introduced Virtual Reality (VR) to the world. The idea was no longer about playing games on a screen but instead, going into the machine and being a part of a whole new digital world. A digital world connected to everything. A digital world that was coming.
Soon after seeing the movie, I hit the book stores (this was before the internet was everything to everyone) so I could find information and reading material on Virtual Reality and what direction I would need to go in to get into this field of study. I found one book at the time and remember paying somewhere around $15 for it, which was a lot back in the day. I no longer have that book today and try as I might to find it, I can’t recall the title or the author. The book itself contained detailed overviews on the different universities experimenting with VR as well as the latest tech companies declaring that VR would be the tech of the future. As we all know, that future did not come to pass. The VR at that time in the early 90’s was expensive, cumbersome, and under powered.
Fast forward to present and enter: Oculus Rift.
When I saw the Oculus Rift from Oculus VR, I was floored. This was the gaming and digital world future we had been promised all those years ago. Not only that but this would be equipment that is affordable, non-cumbersome, and cutting edge with the latest tech available. We would finally be able to enter the digital universe.
Obviously gaming will be a big factor in the popularity of the Oculus Rift and hopefully with the newly unveiled game-publishing arm from Oculus, more and more developers will sign on and bring their ideas and worlds to reality (or rather Virtual Reality). But what about other uses?
Remember Second Life? At one point it was the next big thing but the disconnect between virtual world and flat screen viewing doesn’t lend itself to a world not based on some sort of gaming convention. What if a universe, something like Second Life, could be created and the way to access it would be through VR? What if there was a Hub that could be the central point or entrance point to a world of gaming, social interaction, media, and business?
Imagine jacking into a VR hub world or digital city and hitting social hangouts within this new digital realm. Design and alter your very own construct avatar that others would see when you are in this hub world. Imagine walking down a digital street called Gamer’s Blvd. Each store front being a different game. On the face of the building the developers could decorate with ads and info to persuade the user to enter and play or download their game. Now imagine walking into one of these digital store fronts and inside you get options to view the game being played, play a demo, or go ahead and make the purchase. Think about first person shooters (FPS) with groups or teams played on 3D maps created by the users themselves or made by the developer. Inside the machine the possibilities are endless.
I know from speaking to one of my oldest friends, who is developing with an early model of the Oculus Rift, that there are still hurdles to jump through. He’s noticed that he can play a first person game and be totally immersed in it for about 15-20 minutes at a time before he starts feeling a vertigo effect. After that he says it takes about 30 minutes downtime before he can go back in. Obviously this won’t be the case for everyone as everyone is different and there may never be an individual solution that works for all users, but knowing the issues can help developers and engineers tweak and modify the experience or create optimal viewing options that would cover a wide user group.
We’re coming into a very exciting time when we have Overlay Tech (OT) bringing the digital world out of the machine and placing it over-top of reality and Virtual Reality (VR) where we are making the journey into the digital world inside the machine.
Now all we’ll need is one set of goggles to bridge both technologies and allow for seamless transitions between the two. In time maybe, but for now the foundations to get to that point are being laid and taking shape. No matter how you approach it, an integrated digital reality is coming.
Jason Falter on Google+
Jason’s Website codecrackx15
- Oculus VR now has a publishing arm to help develop video games for its virtual reality headset (thenextweb.com)
- Steam Adds ‘VR Support’ Category for Oculus Rift Games (gaoom.com)
- Steam Adds ‘VR Support’ Category for Oculus Rift Games (roadtovr.com)
- Oculus VR Raises $75 Million to Promote Virtual Reality Headset (bidnessetc.wordpress.com)