Why The Reports Of Oculus Rift's Failure Are Likely Premature

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Why The Reports Of Oculus Rift's Failure Are Likely Premature

The rise of the Oculus Rift is proving to be a major move indeed, as everyone looks forward to a future—hopefully a closer-term future than is currently believed—in which “Skyrim” and the like now feel so immersive that you might actually believe you're building Lakeview Manor with your own two hands instead of just tapping buttons. A future where you might smell the venison stew cooking and can enjoy the honey nut treats instead of just looking at them. A future that looks that much more like “Star Trek” than it ever has before. But some are already calling for the demise of such a system before it can even be put into play, and I can't help but think that that's a little premature.

The idea was advanced that, despite an array of reasons to suggest that wearable virtual reality (VR) would likely win, it would instead fail. It was surprising to note just what were considered points in the system's favor: positive reviews of current units and increasing support from the industry. That would seem to be enough to launch a panoply of units sold, but reports quickly cited inconvenience as one of the biggest points working against the Oculus Rift et al, and that's a surprise. Additionally, some point to a press that's as effusive over VR as it was over 3D television, and the end result of 3D television, well, that was pretty clear as well. Finally noted was a similarly negative forecast from Wedbush Securities' own Michael Pachter, who essentially noted that the problem here was sort of a Catch-22; there was no way that VR could take off without software, and there was no way software could be made without VR taking off sufficiently to bring a large install base along for the ride.

Now, the problem with the analysis here, though well-reasoned, is that it simply doesn't go far enough. Some seem to think that the Oculus Rift and its ilk are simply another gaming peripheral, like a joystick or a particular breed of console. This is simply not the case, as what's being overlooked is the Oculus Rift and the like's value in other fields. We've recently seen the Norwegian military put the Oculus Rift to work as a tank driving system, and we could see similar technology adapted for use in a vehicle; imagine a series of eight cameras posted around the roof of a vehicle, and users able to switch viewpoints while driving. Passing maneuvers would become incredibly easy that way, and users would even be able to access mapping overlays while driving. This might seem outlandish, and may never actually happen, but it serves as an example. Consider further the idea of the Oculus Rift as a home entertainment platform; watch a video through the Oculus Rift instead of on a television. The idea of “video goggles” isn't anything new either, but a high-quality system like the Oculus Rift might well provide something even better; the ability to watch a movie in full 1080p or greater on a large screen...on an airplane. Or in a small room. Or while lying down in bed.

While Pachter and others hold out hope for VR to be big in the future—say, five to 10 years or so—it's simply not likely to be big now. That may or may not ultimately be the case, and they've certainly got a point between the two of them. But it's not hard to think that maybe there are more uses for the Oculus Rift than expected, and that may well have more impact than anyone expects when these devices finally start selling.

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