Oculus Rift. When we first heard those words we thought someone was referring to a serious eye disorder. So, if this is the first you’ve heard of the device, don’t worry, we’re new to it too.
The Oculus Rift, which is still in BETA phase before an official public release, is a head-mounted virtual reality display.
Its developers, Californian-based Oculus VR (Virtual Reality), was founded by self-described ‘virtual reality enthusiasts and hardware geeks’, with a mission statement of ‘immersive virtual reality technology that’s wearable and affordable’. OVR is developing the Oculus Rift technology in an effort to ‘revolutionise the way people experience interactive content’.
Its first incarnation came in the form of the ‘Oculus VR’ development model, launched in 2012, specifically for the gaming industry. Next, came the Oculus Rift DK1 (the ‘DK’ signifying it was still a ‘development kit’ piece of tech) – which was funded via support from some of the top gaming companies in the world and a campaign on crowd-funding site, Kickstarter. It is reported that US$2.4 million was raised.
Then in March this year Facebook bought the entire Oculus VR company for US$2 billion. It was Facebook’s second biggest acquisition after their US$19 billion WhatsApp deal. So, it seems that the gurus at Facebook think that this technology has a future beyond just the gaming world.
The DK2 model of Oculus Rift was released in July this year predominantly for developers to experiment with, to start evolving their skills, and work at integrating the device into games and other applications.
BCM has invested in the DK2 to start experimenting with the device to see what it can do, and how it may translate into ideas for our clients.
So, how does it work? In non-tech terms – you simply need a computer monitor with a keyboard, the Oculus webcam-looking device mounted on the monitor, some headphones, and away you go.
And what’s the experience like? At first it feels weird but you quite quickly get immersed in the ‘reality’ in front of you. It feels very real at times and some of the games we’ve been playing with very convincingly trick your mind into believing you’re actually falling off a building for example. Some of the experiences are so real that they actually make you feel quite ill. We’ve noticed lots of online chatter about the need for Oculus and software developers to address this issue.
So, we’re slowly seeing the possibilities for Oculus for entertainment experiences and beyond.
Just this week, Paramount Pictures integrated Oculus Rift DK2 headsets into custom-theatre chairs for their American ‘virtual reality’ tour of the new Christopher Nolan sci-fi action thriller Interstellar. They did this as a publicity stunt to generate interest ahead of the film’s official release.
Other big players, like Sony, have their own virtual reality tech currently in development.
Beyond entertainment we see potential for developments, like virtual reality business meetings, being a real possibility.
The virtual reality revolution could well be the next ‘big thing’, and we’re thrilled to be on this VR ‘trip’.
We’ll be testing out the new virtual reality headset over the coming weeks and discussing its potential for marketers in a new series of posts. Next week we’ll share more about what it’s like inside the Oculus world.
Jessica Berry is a Social Media Specialist at BCM.