The reality of Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality has been the dream of every gamer in existence. Being able to play the game by actually being in it is something that is… well… mind bogglingly awesome! When Palmer Luckey’s Oculus Rift made its debut in Kickstarter in 2012, gamers around the world knew there was a guardian (read: virtual) angel looking out for them too. The company generated a lot of buzz after the successful funding of its Kickstarter campaign but came into limelight only after Facebook acquired it for 2 Billion USD in March this year.
Though initially meant only for gaming the Oculus Rift is now being used for a variety of fascinating applications – from military tanks to scaling the The Wall from GRRM’s world of Game of Thrones.
Fly you fools!
Oculus Rift gives you wings. No, not the kind of “wings” you sprout after chugging down a can of RedBull. What the Oculus Rift gives you is the realistic experience of flying. The machine, named Birdly, developed by Zurich University of Arts, uses a simulator to translate hand movements into the flapping of virtual wings. Oculus Rift provides the virtual bird’s eye view that helps you experience what soaring actually feels like. Remember Icarus with his wings of wax? If only he had used Birdly instead.
The genius scientists NASA used Oculus Rift and Kinect to simulate how seeing through the eyes of a robot feels like. The device allows the user to actually take control of the robot while having a first person perspective from the robots point of view. The applications- virtual space travel, touring Mars or taking a plunge into a black hole!! Who knows?
The Transparent Tank
The Norwegian military is using Oculus Rift, integrated with a series of cameras around the tank, to offer the soldiers inside an almost 360 degrees view of their surroundings. What does this mean? The soldiers can view their environment without popping their heads out of the hatch. This is almost like the tank is transparent from the inside!
…And many more
If you think this is the end, you could not be more wrong. A sweet granddaughter used oculus rift to help her dying grandmother to walk outside again, “Second Life” creator Philip Rosedale and a team of researchers used this VR device to show brain reaction to stimuli in real time, 3-D enthusiast Oliver Kreylos used the Oculus Rift and Kinect cameras to create a virtual rendering of himself.
Saving the best for last, an anonymous Oculus developer (codenamed Teddy0k) is working on an app that actually creates a virtual roller-coaster ride in your living room! Imagine plunging down into the gas flame from your kitchen store cupboard – blows your mind to smithereens right!
Who knows what else Oculus Rift is capable of? I am content with the fact that I belong to an era where we are witnessing the birth of a significant new medium. What we are actually seeing are the first baby steps that a technology could take. I want to see this technology take giant leaps and I want to get lost in the bliss of virtual reality!
Image: We are the Frontier