When the Oculus Rift made its Kickstarter debut in 2012, gamers were convinced that this could finally be the gadget that would make virtual reality take off.
Now, two years and a $US2 billion acquisition later, the device is being used for much more than video games.
The Oculus Rift, created by Oculus VR, is a virtual reality 3-D headset that uses 360-degree head tracking to make it feel like you’re inside a different world.
For example, looking to the left or right will automatically pan the scene in either direction, making it feel as natural as looking around in reality. The eyewear also provides parallel images for each eye, which is the same way your eyes perceive images in the real world.
The company already generated a ton of buzz after its Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded, but the startup really broke into the public eye when Facebook acquired it for $US2 billion in March.
Palmer Luckey, the 21-year-old Oculus VR founder, said that the Oculus Rift was made specifically for gaming when it was initially introduced. Today, however, people are using the headset to drive tanks in the military and explore the human body, among other fascinating applications.
Roberta Firstenberg had been battling cancer in April when her granddaughter Priscilla used the Oculus Rift to ease her pain. Firstenberg loved being outside, especially gardening, but her condition restricted her from doing so. After writing a letter to Oculus VR relating the situation, the company sent Priscilla a developer version of the Rift, which allowed Firstenberg to roam around a Tuscan villa.
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A machine developed by the Zurich University of the Arts uses the Oculus Rift to create a realistic flying experience. The device, called Birdly, uses its motor to translate hand movements from a simulator into the flapping of virtual wings. The Oculus Rift headset provides a virtual bird's-eye view that makes it feel like you're actually soaring.
Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab created a device that would allow the user to see through the eyes of a robot avatar. The device also uses a Kinect to pick up the Oculus wearer's movements, while the goggles provide a first-person perspective from a remote robot's point of view. In the image above, a user is moving his arm while wearing the Oculus Rift to move the robot's arm.
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A group of scientists at UCSD and UCSF have collaborated with a video game developer to create a platform that can show your brain's reaction to stimuli in real time. The project, called Glass Brain, was unveiled by 'Second Life' creator Philip Rosedale and a team of researchers at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. The system uses MRI scans and EEE electrodes to record brain activity, which can be observed by a third party through the Oculus Rift.
The Norwegian military is testing a new system that utilise the Oculus Rift to get a full view of the battlefield from inside the tank. According to Norwegian TV station TuTV, tanks are equipped with a series of cameras that offer a 185-degree view of their surroundings. Soldiers inside the tank can then view their environment without having to pop their heads above the hatch.
Parrot's newest quadcopter drone, the Bebop, is compatible with the Oculus Rift. This means you'll be able to see exactly what you're drone sees through its 180-degree fish-eye lens. The person in the image above is piloting the drone using the controller in his hand and the Oculus Rift.
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If you've ever wondered what you might look like in a video game, one expert may have just figured out how to do it. 3-D enthusiast Oliver Kreylos created a virtual rendering of himself using the Oculus Rift and three Kinect cameras. Video feeds from three Kinects are combined to generate a 3-D version of Kreylos as he moves around in a virtual environment.
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Arch Virtual, an architecture-focused firm that creates augmented reality apps for the Oculus Rift, has a handful of apps that help designers and architects create buildings virtually. In this particular River Home project in Europe, a client provided Arch Virtual with a virtual model of the building, which is then converted to be compatible with a gaming engine called Unity3D. Using the Rift, designers, architects and contractors can explore the virtual home to get a more immersive feel for the space.
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An Oculus developer with the username Teddy0k is working on an app for the Rift that creates a virtual roller coaster in your living room. The roller coaster simulator shrinks you down to the size of a mouse and takes you on a mock roller coaster ride.
Last year 'Game of Thrones' fans raved about being able to sit in the iron throne during HBO's promotional exhibition, but in 2014, it was all about the Oculus Rift. During this year's event, fans were able to virtually climb the 700-foot iconic wall the from Seven Kingdoms.
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