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Is Oculus Rift the future?
Short answer: Yes.
I backed the Oculus Rift project on KickStarter last year. The team were promising an order of magnitude improvement in head mounted virtual reality goggles, along with very low latency head tracking.
A couple of weeks ago my Oculus Rift developer kit arrived. Here’s my thoughts following a couple of weeks of playing with it.
1. This is the future, no doubt
It’s not an IF, but a WHEN, that this type of technology replaces certain usages of computers. I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately while chilling out - think bigger than just gaming, this has the chance to really change everything. Look at Google Glass, a similar bit of technology in terms of head mounted display (not head tracking or virtual reality, more a heads-up-display for your life).
My guess: We’ll see a bunch of companies doing cool stuff in this space and then one day somebody will pull an Apple and release something that takes the best of all of them and we get a collective ‘Ah ha!’ moment (to complete the scene, I’m talking about the iPhone. No one part was particularly unique per se, but the way it was done was magnificent and changed everything in the phone space).
2. The Oculus Rift isn’t perfect
And neither was I expecting it to be. For one, this is the dev kit — I have no idea if higher spec’d units are planned for the consumer space.
The Oculus Rift has a flat screen in front and then these lenses that sit in front of it. They help curve the image to your eye and create a better VR experience. The dev kit ships with three sets of lenses: Those for near sighted people, long sighted people and those with perfect eye sight.
This is where I think the resolution of the Oculus Rift suffered a little. Effectively these lenses act as magnifying glasses for each eye and that means if you pay attention you can actually see black lines between pixels. It also means you need to very carefully calibrate the headset so your eyes are perfectly aligned. If you’re not perfectly aligned the image becomes blurry and not as impressive.
The lenses are really fricken close to my eye ball. I’ve been cursed with beautiful long eye lashes and this means getting the lenses to be close enough to be immersive but far enough away for me not to just smear them every time I blink is quite a challenge.
The Oculus Rift does allow adjustment to push the distance of the lenses out further but I equally found that the maximum distance from my eye, while best for my eyes, lowered my immersion. Time to trim the eye lashes me thinks.
3. It won’t feel awesome to begin with
Everyone in the Mindscape office gave the Oculus Rift a test drive. Even people not in our office came to check it out. Universally there were comments about feeling sea sick and the feeling that the wearer was going to fall over.
I seemed to suffer the least from this, but I did get it slightly.
4. Wonderfully packaged
The team at Oculus did a fantastic job packaging this tech. Strong beautiful case, all the possible cables you’d need, lots of padding. Really felt like I’d spent a lot more than $300 USD to get this. Great work.
5. Head tracking latency is really good
I’ve used a few VR headsets many many many moons ago. The head tracking in the Oculus is really good. There’s still some minor lag, but it’s significantly better than anything I’ve used before. The bigger issue is the screen quality I mentioned in point #2.
6. You’ll want a lot more
This isn’t a fault of Oculus, but as soon as you start wearing this thing you’ll start feeling what the future will be like:
- Why isn’t it wireless? I can’t turn around a lot without binding myself in cables and ripping my pc off the desk.
- I can’t see my hands? That’s clearly the future. It’s a little off putting to throw your hands up and not see them. At Mindscape we’re playing around with connecting the Oculus Rift with a Kinect so we can show your hands in the VR world. Seems like a logical next step.
- I still have to use the WASD keys to move in my game? Seems logical to have an omni directional treadmill here. That would be amazing immersive and WoW players would be the fittest people in the world. Also see: Why isn’t the Oculus wireless?
7. It makes you look super sexy
In conclusion dear reader
We’re on the edge of another great round of innovation in the world of human computer interaction. I recommend grabbing an Oculus Rift just to experience some of this as well as helping back an innovative player in the market.
I, for one, look forward to spending my twilight years in the Matrix being Superman.
Virtual Reality Part 2
For previous parts click here
“Excuse me?” You asked, not exactly sure of what was going on.
“Don’t you remember yesterday? I told you all of this yesterday..” Zayn stopped at he sight of you shaking your head. You didn’t exactly know how to explain what happened yesterday without sounding like a freak. Maybe you were just weary from yesterday, and were imagining it, you had to admit even know you were dizzy, so who knows what went through your head yesterday.
“Uhh sure. You know what, now I remember, I was just-“ You couldn’t really explain from there, and he didn’t expect you to. You started to realize that now everything that happened with Liam wasn’t real, the kiss and everything. So why did you dream it?
“Can I get you anything darling? Maybe some water, some breakfast?” Zayn said brushing the hair away from your face. You shook your head again, not knowing what to do with yourself. Where did your life go from here? Zayn got up, and started walking around the kitchen. He brought a glass of water to you anyways, but your shrugged him away. He still tried handing you the water.
“You should drink some thing (Y/N), it might help you feel better.” Zayn whispered, forcing the water into your hand. You took a sip, but it tasted of nothing.
“Do you remember anything? You know, of that night?” You asked him, lounging back onto the couch. He took a seat on the arm of the chair and leaned back. After a few moments of thought, he looked at you and nodded.
“Quite a lot actually. You?” He nodded his head at you, but shook your head again.
“Not a thing. I just remember falling asleep.” You said, and it hurt a little to think back to it.
“I remember the entire night.” Zayn said, starring at the ceiling. You looked at him, waiting for him to go on, but that’s all he said.
“Maybe I’ll tell you when we have more time.” He didn’t have to really explain, but you could tell he was getting emotional, and that he just didn’t want to talk about it.
“Zayn, stop!” You said dodging out of the way. You guys were roasting marshmallows in front of the open fire, and Zayn decided to wave his lit marshmallow in front of you. Liam seemed to get a kick out of it and so Zayn continued. You got up and proceeded to run behind the conch. Zayn didn’t fee like getting up, and so he just stayed laughing in front of the fire.
“You can come back here love, everything’s fine.” Liam teased at you. You slowly got up from behind the couch and continued roasting your marshmallow. Zayn put an arm around you, and you didn’t complain, you could flirt with Zayn all night, and you did.
You hadn’t thought about it until now, but you know realized Liam was basically a third wheel the whole night. A wave a guilt came over you, feeling bad that that’s how Liam spent his “last night” Third wheeling with you and Zayn. Is that why he kissed you? Wait, he didn’t kiss you, did he? Well if he was d- passed on – then that was definitely a dream. Little flashbacks hit you, especially when you didn’t expect it.
“(Y/N)? Are you alright?” Zayn was shaking you, and you jolted up, facing him.
“What? What’s wrong?” You asked, paranoid.
“You wouldn’t respond to anything I said, it’s like you completely blanked.” He said, amazed at what just happened. It must have been the flashback, but you didn’t need another reason for Zayn to call you crazy, and so you remained silent.
After all the commotion, Zayn agreed to stay the night with you. He didn’t admit it but you could tell he knew you were feeling a little depressed. You fell asleep In Zayn’s arms, shortly after he climbing into bed with you.
You woke up rather quickly. Your neck felt sore, and you couldn’t sleep any longer. You looked at the body next to you. He was breathing softly, and facing away from you. You rubbed his back, trying to wake him up softly. He sat up and your mouth fell open.
“Hey, how do you feel?” Liam said, brushing your hair out of your face, like Zayn? You stepped back off the bed, starring at him with wide eyes.
“What’s wrong? Do you need help?” He said, not exactly knowing what was going on, but getting off the bed and taking a step closer to you.
“You’re not- but Zayn- why, how is this even-“ But you couldn’t finish your sentence. He looked even more confused then before. “Liam, you’re alive?” You whispered, but still not quite believing it.
“Are you okay? You might just be weary from last night, I came to visit you. It might just be a side effect from the PTSD.” He said, putting a calming hand around you. You were definitely crazy, you knew for sure now. You couldn’t differentiate dream from reality, and you needed help.
“Liam, this is going to sound crazy, but is this all real?” You shook after you said that, just realizing how mental you sounded. Instead of freaking out, he giggled a little, and gave you a hug. You didn’t smile yet though, you were still very confused.
“Of course love, this is all real.” He said giving you a kiss on your forehead.
Part 3…? I also enjoy your guy’s feedback, so you know, here.
Ok story time!
So I decided to go into this black hole of the internet which is called Omegle. Yeah I know i shouldn’t talk to strangers and stuff. But I was really bored.
Anyway the point is that exept all the weirdoz I (didn’t) talked to in there there are actually some really nice and interesting people. There might be just a few of them but they exist!
Also something else which I noticed is the how lonely most of this people where. And that made me sad. I mean instead of talking to someone behind the screen we should all go out and talk to actual people (said the girl with the text blog on tumblr).
But what happens when no one understands you in real life? What happens when the only people who think like you are those behind the screen?
I think it’s ok as long as we’re good judges so that we can understand who is good and who isn’t.
(Not one of my best posts but anyway!)
Thanks for reading! xx
Haven’t written much of the book lately, still hovering around 85,000 words. A substantial section in coming to an end, and I find that the hardest part: tying things together so they can make sense within the rest of the story.
Also, I’ve started the course for an MSc in Cyberpsychology and it’s taking time to get adjusted to being a student again - an academic student too, which is something I never was. Lots of reading of articles and reports about Virtual Reality and Psychology which, not having a background in either, makes my head hurt; I found myself diverting towards the technology, so easy to do, but was put back on the straight and narrow last weekend. First assignment is due in a couple of weeks, so that’s where my attention has been focussed. Tonight there’s a module on Internet Research Methods, which sounds dry as sandpaper, but it’s really about a critical thinking and finding rational meaning amongst so much poorly researched and reported shit.
The good thing is my beta readers have been nagging me to provide them with the next chunk of the book, it seems the ‘what happens next’ thing is working. I could tell them, but they can wait till I have this assignment written till I’m sure what I think is going to happen is what actually happens - cos it’s not always the case.
The very popular article, Who Am We” by Sherry Turkle brought up an interesting point about certain games throughout society. Turkle mostly focused on Sims. Sims is a game where you create your own avatar and create relationships with other avatars in your game. How do I know this? Well, yes, like many other kids, I played. Even though I no longer play, I understand the addiction that many people face. Many people create this alternate reality. I became familiar with this idea of an alternate reality when Oprah shared a documentary called Life 2.0. The documentary focused on a group of people who became addicted to the virtual world. These people spend so much time focusing on their “second lives” that they lose track of what’s real.