2015 – Virtual Reality Gets Real
2014 has been a banner year for Oculus VR thanks to Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of the Virtual Reality (VR) company. Fortune interviewed Oculus VR CTO John Carmack about what’s next for the immersive technology.
John Carmack is considered as little less than a saint in the VR and video gaming world. After co-founding id Software and leading the development of cult videogames Doom and Quake, Carmack became the chief technologist of Oculus VR, the makers of the Oculus Rift headset that is well on its way to revolutionize VR and immersive gaming.
Experiencing Oculus Technology is Like Getting Religion
“When you experience Oculus technology, it’s like getting religion on contact. People that try it walk out a believer.”
The new approach started by Oculus VR features cellphone screen technology, a wide field of view, and super-low-latency sensor tracking. With mobile systems that get faster and faster with more and more cores and wider and wider GPUs, Carmack is bullish about the potential of mobile VR for both gaming and non-gaming applications.
“The magic of a completely portable and wireless VR headset is easy to under-estimate until you have experienced it. [A]t its very core, virtual reality is about being freed from the limitations of actual reality. Carrying your virtual reality with you, and being able to jump into it whenever and wherever you want, qualitatively changes the experience for the better. Experiencing mobile VR is like when you first tried a decent desktop VR experience. There is a sense that you are glimpsing something from the future. This is science fiction made real, and it’s only just the beginning.”
In a recent tweet, Carmack said:
Within a couple years there should be thousands of live streaming telepresence panoramas that we can teleport between.
Scientific American is running a story about accessible VR delivered via the Web, which promises to let people experience digital worlds in 3D using head-mounted displays connected to a variety of browser-enabled devices. Web VR is expected to offer the ability to move you from one immersive experience to another with a click of the mouse, touch of the screen or nod of the head. Web VR, actively developed by Google and Mozilla, will let software developers port their virtual worlds to the Web, making them available for most VR hardware.
The Scientific American article traces the history of VR from VRML to Second Life and the new, relatively inexpensive headsets from Oculus VR, Samsung, and Google. The availability of content will largely define VR’s success. Businesses have already begun buying into the concept of immersive advertising, thanks in large part to Facebook’s investment in Oculus. New VR content development systems will enable creators to build awesome consumer VR experiences that take full advantage of modern VR interface devices.
The free version of Unity3D, a popular 3D development system for gaming and VR applications, now supports the Oculus Rift. The company announced that they are working closely with Oculus to optimize frame rates on games made with Unity and deliver the best possible workflow experience to all our users.
Images from Stefano Tinti, Barone Firenze and Shutterstock.