Samsung, Oculus and the Other “Rift”

oculus-1214Oculus (the Facebook-owned virtual reality company) has teamed up with Samsung to create the Gear VR Innovator Edition, a development kit for mobile virtual reality.

Leveraging only the Samsung GALAXY Note 4 (Samsung will have to do additional engineering work to make the new Innovator Edition work with other phones), the Gear VR Innovator Edition allows developers to build mobile VR experiences.

Users would click-snap the phone into the VR headset to enter virtual reality — anytime, anywhere, any place.

The Innovator Edition isn’t for the general public. It targets developers who want to make virtual reality games and apps. It leverages Samsung’s brand and marketing to bring Oculus VR to a wider, more mobile audience.

More importantly, at $199 the Gear VR Innovator Edition will attract developers by the score. And apps are what VR needs to drive it forward.

We could mention that this is a consumer effort (about 20 apps are available for the Gear VR, most of them games). We could tell you how it operates at 60Hz (it shows you 60 images in one second). We might add the Samsung Gear VR can put 100,000 polygons on a screen at a time.

But it’s more important to talk about the other Oculus “Rift.”

oculus2-1214First, we have the product Oculus Rift (Oculus for PCs newest developer edition, dubbed Crescent Bay will be out soon with 100,000 polygons on a screen at a time). The “other” Oculus Rift is the fissure between those who believe Oculus is a world-changer — and those who don’t.

Those who believe Oculus will rock the world include Facebook that acquired the year-old Oculus for $700 million plus a fortune in Facebook stock this past March. The gaming world also certainly thinks Oculus will change their industry. Based on a comment by Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey (yes, Luckey is his real last name) that Oculus might donate VR headsets to schools, education is poised to see the impact on remote learning.

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Retail is another that might be affected by virtual showrooms. Fitness. Architecture with its 3D modeling. Corporate training. Medicine. Tourism. Even art. Museums. Live concerts.

Think this is a stretch? 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.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab created a device that would allow the user to see through the eyes of a robot avatar.

A group of university 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.

The Norwegian military is testing a new system that utilize the Oculus Rift to get a full view of the battlefield from inside the tank (photo shown at right).

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.

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.

OK, we made our point. Now you get to decide which side of “the Rift” you are on. Will Oculus change the world?

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