There are exciting things going on in the world of Oculus Rift virtual reality. If you recall, Facebook purchased the virtual reality headset funded through KickStarter back in March for $2 billion. Fans were initially apprehensive about the deal, fearing that Facebook’s meddling might ruin what could have a revolutionary impact. On the bright side, there doesn’t seem to be much interference being played since the original founders are still calling the shots that matter. Now that the sky truly appears to be the limit, let’s take a look at some of the more compelling Oculus Rift applications already out in the wild.
1. Spooky Games
Oculus Rift is taking interactive gaming to all new levels by offering the ultimate in immersion and intensity. As far as genres go, horror looks to have terrifically terrifying appeal. One of the oldest games built for the device is the VR sensation Affected. Developed by Fallen Planet Studios, Affected recreates the haunted house experience by taking the user through a series of three horrific scenarios where survival is the name of the game – or just making it to the end. Dynamic environments, realistic 3D graphics, and more than enough jumpscares make this one a must-play experience for avid gamers.
Check out this YouTube video for a closer look at Affected for Oculus Rift.
2. “Virtual” Action-Packed Movies
Innovation like the Rift seems tailor made for gaming, but its potential stems far beyond that. Director Danfung Dennis is set to release an Oculus Rift-based movie entitled Zero Point later this year. The filmaims to treat the user to an immersive viewing experience by taking them on a virtual reality tour through scenarios such as the 2013 Electronics Entertainment Expo and rigorous military training at California’s Camp Pendleton. Experienced through the Rift, Zero Point promises to make you feel like you’re smack dead in the middle of all the action. Hollywood may be calling regularly soon enough.
Stop by Vimeo to check out the trailer for Zero Point.
3. Military Vision
Speaking of the military, Oculus Rift is showing promise there, too. The Norwegian military is testing it in a system that navigates tanks through dangerous combat missions. In the system, the tanks are armed with a network of cameras that showcase each side of the vehicle through 185-degree views. Donning the Rift headset, the pilot has a complete view of what’s happening on the ground without ever having to pop up out of the hatch and literally put their heads in harm’s way. Safety aside, this application could also give the military a more complete and accurate perspective of the battlefield.
4. Unearthly Explorations
Virtual reality may one day play a huge role in exploring Mars, where man has still yet to land. The team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion team created a cross-platform rig that uses both the Oculus Rift and Microsoft Kinect to recreate the look and feel of life on Mars. Through the Rift headset, operators can see what a robotic rover sees, while the Kinect tracks the operator’s movements, which are mimicked by the robot. Controlling the environment from millions of miles away may understandably come with some lagging, but researchers are hopeful that this project will deliver the closet thing we’ve experienced to mankind on Mars without physically making the journey.
5. Enabling the Disabled
This last scenario highlights some of the most inspiring usage of Oculus Rift I’ve seen. The Rift Arcade reported the story of Roberta Firstenberg, a terminally ill grandmother battling cancer. Due to her weakened condition, simply taking a stroll outside was a thing of the past. Firstenberg’s granddaughter Priscilla or Pri, reached out to the folks at Oculus for help, who responded in a big way. After receiving a complimentary Rift prototype, Pri helped her grandmother experience lifelike butterflies, waterfalls, and even scaling stairs in a Tuscan villa – all inside a virtual environment. Unfortunately, Roberta passed away a few weeks later, but it’s just a small sample of how this slick piece of technology can be used to improve life for those struggling with it most.
From the film set to the combat zone, Oculus Rift looks poised to make a huge mark far beyond the gaming arena. Where else do you see Facebook’s virtual reality toy having an impact?
Top Photo Credit: Sergey Galyonkin via Flickr