If you follow my random jottings, you may recall that I’m very bullish about Virtual Reality. As a lifetime science fiction geek, VR has always been the Holy Grail. It never seemed achievable (for the average user at least), but it’s getting increasingly closer.
There are three monsters driving this development. A couple of years back, Facebook bought Oculus Rift, the company who managed to hack the human optic nerve and has been working on a ground-breaking headset ever since. I tried an early version, and it’s amazing.
Where Facebook is, can Google be far behind? In their recent I/O conference, Google announced improvements to its Android operating system to allow developers to essentially stitch together video sources from multiple cameras to produce a true VR result. It also has another larger version of its Android-based cardboard headset, which does VR on a shoestring. I have one; it’s clunky but cool, and only cost $40.
The last (much smaller) monster is GoPro. They have just announced a rig which puts six GoPro cameras on a circular rig, allowing users to collect images from multiple cameras simultaneously and then send them on to the Kolor VR platform they acquired recently.
All this stuff is super geeky for right now, but the moment the Oculus Rift headset is launched (hopefully in association with XBox or Sony PlayStation), it will be game on. Gamers will be the first customers, followed rapidly by the porn industry and sports. I’d expect Hollywood to be a year or so behind. What’s especially encouraging is that these players are working on a ‘wide and cheap’ approach, where VR will be readily available to pretty much anyone with modest income.
I realize I’m in the minority in my wildly excitement about this development, in the same way I was wildly underwhelmed by 3D TV. It’s coming folks, and sooner than we thought.