When Mark Zuckerberg announced the $US2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift earlier this year, he said it was going to change a lot more than gaming.
“Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home. This is really a new communication platform.”
I finally got to try the latest version, “Crescent Bay,” at Business Insider’s IGNITION conference earlier this month and I’m a believer. He’s absolutely right. This is about way more than gaming, or entertainment. It will change entire industries.
First, the obvious one: Gaming. Once entire games are available on Oculus, there will literally be no reason for anybody to buy a console. They will be as obsolete as Pong.
Education: Chromebooks and iPads in the classroom are one thing. But Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has said that the company may donate headsets to schools. Or imagine remote learning where you actually feel like you're in the classroom with other people.
Commerce: Luxury stores are the last bastion of physical retail. But imagine virtual retail showrooms that feel as realistic and beautiful as real life. Better yet, imagine testing what a particular object would look like in your home.
Architecture: There's an entire field of software called CAD (computer-aided-design), used in architecture, city planning, and other fields. But walking or flying through an immersive 360-degree view is a lot more effective than looking at 3D models on a 2D screen.
Medicine: Medical students could train on hyper-realistic virtual patients before they ever touch a real one.
Tourism: You could take a virtual tour of a hotel room, AirBnb rental, or the district of a city before you ever get there.
Art: David Hockney and others have already experimented with making art on the iPad. Imagine what they will be able to do with products like Tilt Brush, which enables 3D painting inside a virtual world.
Music: In 2007, more than 25 million people applied to get tickets to Led Zeppelin's one-show reunion. That left a lot of disappointed fans. How much would they have paid to watch it virtually live?
Porn: The adult entertainment industry is always an early adopter, and there's no reason Oculus should be any different. It could also add a more direct physical element to online dating and long-distance relationships.
None of this will happen overnight. Facebook and Oculus are still perfecting the technology. It still makes some people sick to their stomach (although this didn't happen for me). Developers have barely started building apps for it. The headsets need to be mass produced, at scale, cheaply.
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