Saturday, 7 September 2013

So very VERY COOL: My Oculus Rift Developers Kit arrives!

Forgive the hyperbole. But it was an exciting day in the office yesterday. I took delivery of my Oculus Rift development kit ( I haven't been this excited about technology for years.

I needed a reasonably modern laptop to use it (the issue is the need for Digital Video output) - but that just meant that trying it out was a team effort (thank you @PaddytheRabbit). A bit of faffing with dongles and cables and we were away.

There's already quite a lot to try. There are websites keeping tracking of current developments, the best of which seems to be Basically the Rift is just an external screen. It simply requires a dual image, and each eye to get focused on each side of the screen. The genius of the design is the simple realisation that a VR headset didn't need to be more complicated than a mobile phone screen with a couple of lenses on top of it. That brainwave will make its inventors very rich.

Because of its simplicity, content will be quick to come. The experience is extraordinary. This video is not an exaggeration:

My experience was similar on that rollercoaster (I think it's this one The extraordinary thing is how something which is simply visual can have such a visceral effect. It may be that the early cinema audiences had this experience. The range of emotional responses are very broad (much more than I have ever experienced in anything 'virtual'). Entering a virtual city in Half Life 2 was pretty much like being there. The really amazing thing is when you look around, up, down. It's actually very easy to forget where you actually are physically (standing up, I tripped over chairs and cables a few times!). The only problem is finding the keyboard to control your movements. I now desperately want a VR glove.

I can relax in my VR world. I could, I imagine, even meditate. Scary stuff is really scary. Beautiful stuff is beautiful. Exciting stuff is exciting. This simply works.

Everybody who was in the office tried it. Even @stephenp 's external examiners (he gained his PhD yesterday - many congratulations!!!) got to try it. It's that kind of thing. You can grab anyone off the street and say "try this" and they will go "wow!". We don't get that opportunity very often, and Vice Chancellors should be the first port of call.

There's lots to think about. It's not just the experience inside the Rift. It's also the 'masking' of the user, the dynamics of conversation between players and non-players and the apparent removal of inhibitions. As I said in an earlier post, this is about changing one's psychological state (see and

Education will be changed by this. Maybe not to the extent that I want to feel it might be changed in the excitement of this moment. But it will be changed.

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