Oculus Rift and the future of virtual reality

Things are about to get interesting in the world of virtual reality. From driving tanks to messaging on WhatsApp, no one is quite sure where the revival of VR technology is taking us.

But Facebook’s purchase of Oculus and its VR headset made one thing quite clear. VR tech is about way more than just gaming.

We asked interactive artist and RE:WORK conference speaker Mike Pelletier what our virtual future has in store for us.

WebMagazin: You’ve developed interactive installations for companies like Nike (below) and Diesel. Can you tell us a bit about the technologies you used?

Open source technologies play a big part of what we do at Random Studio. We work a lot with openFrameworks, a creative coding framework and with the Arduino, the electronics prototyping platform.

Microsoft’s Kinect is also a tool we rely on heavily when creating interactive installations, it’s one of the best tools for tracking people and allowing them to trigger something in an interactive installation.

For Diesel we used a heat-sensing thermal camera, which is really fun tool to use and you still don’t see used very often in interactive installations.

WebMagazin: When it comes to VR, Oculus is getting most of the attention. What other exciting augmented and virtual reality projects are out there?

Obviously the Oculus Rift has been a big success in getting people excited about virtual reality and seeing VR as viable platform for the future. As a result we’re starting to see a whole ecosystem of other devices and interfaces spring up around the Oculus.

There’s a number of companies that have announced their own VR headsets, trying to compete in regards to resolution, tracking accuracy and portability.

There’s also whole range of new interfaces that are trying to extend the VR experience, for position-sensing game controllers, hand tracking gloves, walking platforms that allow you to move in the virtual space and motion tracking suits for full-body presence.

WebMagazin: How long do you reckon we have before we’re all wearing VR headsets?

The current rumours are that we won’t see a consumer version of the Oculus Rift until at least next year. There’s still lots of work to be done until it’s ready for mass adoption by the consumer, but in the next few years we’ll see the early adopters really embrace this kind of technology.

WebMagazin: Would you agree that VR tech is (and will be) mostly a technology for gaming?

Gaming will be the first big frontier in the current VR revival, but that’s not the only place we’ll see it used. Architecture, military training and simulation, even filmmaking are all fields where we can expect to see VR being adopted.

You can hear Mike Petellier speak at the RE.WORK tech summit in Berlin on June 19-20.

Nike Selfridges Case Study from Random Studio on Vimeo.

SEE ALSO: Oculus Facebook vs Google Glass

Feature image: SAN FRANCISCO – MARCH 20: Oculus VR unveiling the second version of The Rift, its Virtual Reality headset for PC just before being bought by Facebook at GDC 2014 on March 20, 2014 in San Francisco, CA via Shutterstock / copyright: Barone Firenze

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