Lately the gaming community has been all a buzz with Sony’s presentation of Project Morpheus at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco just last week, looking to bring the world of 3D literally right in the faces of gamers in the coming months. But what seemed to have fueled this development of Sony’s was the fascination that rose up over a Kickstarter campaign for the device from a little team calling themselves Oculus.
Oculus Rift is a 3D headset device that allows animators and designs to explore their creations in real 3D space. Having amasses over two million dollars through their Kickstarter campaign, the Oculus Rift is fully set and ready to release as the first few development kits went on sale for just around $350.00 with shipments set for July of this year. There have been some videos also floating about the Internet of uses of the Oculus Rift, the most notable was a first person perspective rendering of the first Legend of Zelda game that had retro gaming fans stunned and amazed. Though the hype about the Oculus Rift appears to be living up to its name, the support of Sony with their VR Headset definitely gave the developers of the Oculus Rift the edge they needed to really get the gaming community in on the idea of Virtual Reality.
But now another interested company comes… Facebook, who have now purchased the Hardware Patent from Oculus VR for $2 billion dollars. Only just months ago did Facebook shell out a whopping $19 billion dollars for the WhatsApp (which is still pending), which does make one wonder what Facebook is trying to do acquiring these licenses. Unlike WhatsApp, the Oculus Rift caught Mark Zuckerberg’s eye with the fascinations as to what great experiences could be shared with such a device.
In an MSN article, Zuckerberg was said to mention that the Oculus Rift brings the potential to do so much more than games with such things as watch a basketball game as if right at court side from your own living room, learn in a virtual classroom, speak with doctors showing detailed 3D images of their patients conditions and health, and of course applying social interaction applications (ORTUTAY 2014). He made no mention as to what it would apply in terms of Facebook’s use with the device, but I’m sure their will be some sort of video chat application or perhaps a virtual photo gallery that a user could essentially walk through.
The real test of this will obviously be the acceptance of this device by the public itself. 3D movies and televisions looked to have been the next ‘big thing’ just 2 years ago, but sales of 3D televisions have not turned too great of a profit for manufacturers that it does make the acceptance of the Oculus Rift or other VR headset devices a shaky one. With 3D televisions, the biggest problem that most people have with the experience is that they have to wear glasses to see the 3D effects and people just don’t want to wear something to see the 3D. The Nintendo 3DS tried to capitalize on the 3D fad as well, but again has been met with slow sales where the Nintendo 2DS now shows signs of matching sales of the 3DS device in just its short release time since October of last year. So will people really want to wear a full headset on the face to get this experience? History says no from my perspective.
Personally I find it fascinating and welcome the trend, but again… people don’t want to wear things to see in 3D. The Nintendo 3DS displays depth 3D where the image in the device has the appearance of being pushed back to present a 3D image but nothing protrudes out of the devices to make images appear to be right in front of the user. 3D televisions do display protruded images, but this is only supported by a small library of movies and games where the purchase of a supported device is necessary in order to project the 3D image. While all these devices showcase marvelous technological improvements, people still complain with just even a pair of glasses that they have to wear to experience 3D that is makes the Oculus Rift’s reception to the public, a weak one at best.
Would I purchase one? Indeed I would. I relish at the idea of working in Maya 3D or 3D Studio Max with my 3D rendered models, being able to turn and spin them and change things as if a sculptor. I certainly hope the reception of the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus to be well received and push it further. While we all want the computers Tony Stark has in the Iron Man movies to throw panels and windows right up in front of us, I feel we are years and years away from that. Though now in the hands of Facebook, the future of this medium is still uncertain.