By Max Cohen, Staff Writer
The evolution of the entertainment industry has been due to a singular vision: a completely immersive experience. That is why hyper-realistic graphics, enormous screens and 3-D technology have flourished recently. They make the experience real.
But a new technology, the Oculus Rift, could finally bridge the gap between genuine and virtual realities. The product of a $16 million Kickstarter fund by developer Oculus VR, the Rift has already left industry veterans and curious consumers intrigued and impressed.
Outwardly, the Rift looks ridiculous. It is essentially a huge pair of goggles which, like night-vision goggles, aren’t even that noticeable on your face (that’s a reference to the movie “Stepbrothers”). The goggles contain two internal screens—one for each eye—which allow for actual binocular depth cues within games.
But the Oculus Rift works surprisingly well despite its clunky appearance. It hooks up to any PC display and transfers the PC graphics to the two screens. The Rift’s cameras move the screen as the user turns their head, essentially allowing for a virtual first person POV.
Unsurprisingly, a few developers have already used the intriguing technology in innovative ways. There is currently a spacewalk simulator, in addition to a first person horror game that puts you alone in a haunted house. It is wholly different to watch something terrifying or mystifying on a TV then to actually experience it.
If the Rift is perfected by its release, it may spell the end for entertainment as we know it. Home video could become obsolete; console markets would disappear; social gaming would be a completely new experience.
And you can get your hands on the Oculus Rift on Saturday. The Microsoft NERD center in Cambridge will be hosting a conference for the Oculus Rift which is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
The event runs from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will allow consumer demos of the Oculus Rift. The event sign-up page is https://oculusnerds.eventbrite.com/. Who knows? Maybe in 20 years, you’ll be able to rip the goggles off your kid’s faces for a few minutes to tell them how you were one of the first to ever use and Oculus Rift. Maybe they’ll even think you’re cool.