Earlier this week I was invited to the Inition Demo Room where they house lots of innovations that let us glance into the future of tech for use in business and in our homes. They demoed some new 3D TVs that you don’t need to wear 3D glasses to watch, some cool AR tech and something particularly I the resting to gamers, the return of Virtual Reality or VR in the home with the Oculus Rift which is now in production thanks to a recent Kickstarter.
It’s early days yet but I saw three uses for the VR headset that made for genuinely interesting experiences.
The first thing I tried, along with others invited along for the morning, was the ‘walk the Plank’ experience where I donned the headset and walked across a real plank on the floor with a fan blowing on me to convince me I was high up. I was then slowly walked towards a door which opened to reveal a plank high above a landscape where I had to walk from one tower to another. Thanks to the Kinect knowing my position in space and the Oculus Rift knowing where I was pointing my head, I was able to move along the plank and look up and down. Along with headphones that played wind noises it did a good job of fooling the brain. I wasn’t fazed but some other guests were, especially when the plank dropped away as you ‘fall’ to the ground. Whilst the resolution is low at the moment, the field of view gives great peripheral vision so, with a few visual improvements, things look promising.
The next thing I demoed was the use of 3D cameras and the ability to look around an environment, similar to using a mouse to view 360 views of webcams online. I sampled being inside an F1 car and flying in a wing suit and I can see future use in sport where users could switch cameras and choose where they want to look at any time.
Finally, I got to combine the Oculus Rift with a thing called the Wizdish. Basically, it’s a super slidey dish you stand on and shuffle your feet around to simulate walking. You can then ‘walk’ on the spot and turn around the environment and it actually feels much better than it looks when you see someone using it.
I’ll be keeping my eye on the Oculus Rift in the coming months. Hopefully they’ll make some survival horror games for it that will make me jump out of my skin!