The Rise of Virtual Reality: From Oculus Rift to Firefox
In the 80s virtual reality (VR) stood at the threshold of our minds. It seemed like the technology was about to take center stage but the dream never quite came to fruition. Though VR has been incorporated in gaming systems like Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, consumers like myself have only recently seen the potential of commercially viable devices in the likes of Oculus Rift and other headsets. But does this new generation of augmented reality have what it takes to transform our lives as tech enthusiasts, gamers and digital consumer.
The History of Virtual Reality: From 80s Headsets to Oculus Rift
Virtual reality refers to computer technology that creates three-dimensional, simulated reality in which users can manipulate and immerse themselves. Though this immersive technology has only recently made headlines, it took root several decades ago in the minds of individuals like Douglas Engelbart who began to envisioned computers with a display — a type of computer far more versatile than the colossal number-crunching machines of the early 20th century.
When Morton Heilig later created the Sensorama it became even more clear that virtual reality was a venture bursting with potential. Though the Sensorama was not a commercial success, it foreshadowed technology that could truly transform the way we consume entertainment.
As consumer graphics and computer technology experienced significant improvements, the possibility of VR began to be more than a faint dream. In no other case has this been more apparent than the rise of Oculus Rift.
How will Facebook’s Oculus Deal Affect the Industry?
Oculus Rift, a virtual reality head-mounted display designed for gamers, first hit the scene in 2012 when it was launched on Kickstater, a crowd funding platform. Creators of the headset had one thing in mind, i.e. to raise enough funds to develop Oculus and place it in the hands of consumers. The fund raising campaign attracted thousands of backers, raising more than $2 million in the process.
In March 2014, the Internet began buzzing with news about a shocking Facebook deal. The social media giant bought Oculus Rift for an estimated $2 billion. This year’s deal between Oculus Rift and Facebook highlights just how lucrative the VR industry has become. But not everyone is happy about Oculus’ seemingly good fortune. Gaming fans throughout the world were more than a little disgruntled as they were left to wonder how Facebook purchase would impact the gaming industry.
Would Facebook’s takeover mark the end of Oculus as a gaming platform or would this result in a more diversified and marketable product for consumers? Though these questions are not easy to address, there are a few things that consumers can keep in mind as they evaluate the impact of Facebook’s purchase on the development of the VR industry.
- Facebook as a huge Internet powerhouse has a massive group of talented tech experts as well as tons of money to spare. This deal could enable Oculus to collaborate with creative teams across the world and access the funds needed to develop their product and make it even more affordable.
- Oculus is not the only VR reality company that’s making heads in the technology market. Sony announced a VR headset for PlayStation 4 called Project Morpheus and Google has also followed suit with an economical, albeit less impressive headset designed especially for smartphone users. If such developments are any indication, gamers will have many opportunities to access augmented reality for gaming.
- Since the device runs on an open platform, tech developers across the world will be able to build new experiences, products and services based on the Oculus platform. Thus, VR enthusiasts should consider Oculus as the gateway to a revolutionary future, not the destination. If the passion for VR continues, we’ll see a plethora of areas incorporated within virtual worlds – areas as multifaceted as medicine, education and social media.
- Oculus Rift technology could enhance the way we interact with others via social media. Facebook has already amassed billions of users, some of whom spend several hours each day checking their social feeds, ‘liking’ posts and uploading photos. With the advent of VR technology, social media experiences can become more immersive and engaging, providing transformative platforms upon which we can communicate with each other.
- Even browsers are getting a VR facelift – a fact that could result in significant changes in the way we explore cyberworld. Firefox and Google recently announced plans to add virtual reality capabilities to their browsers. One can only imagine the vast opportunities that await us if VR headsets become an integral part of our Internet experience.
Oculus Rift is leading the way in today’s VR world by offering next-generation headsets that provide immersive experiences to users. This device promises new opportunities for gamers as well as the average tech enthusiast. As a result of the company’s efforts, several other companies are now offering their own versions of augmented reality, bringing us closer to a future where dynamic headsets and immersive augmented worlds are commonplace. Though some are still doubtful regarding the viability of VR technology, one thing is clear: virtual reality is not to be ignored.