Oculus Rift's Movie Theater Experiments

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Oculus Rift's Movie Theater Experiments

It was a safe bet that the Oculus Rift wasn't going to just be used for gaming. Even when Facebook bought it up and Mark Zuckerberg started dithering on about the "possibilities", he really wasn't saying anything that anyone who looked at this device hadn't already thought. But some new word suggests that Oculus Rift may have a plan in mind that some already expected...even if they didn't expect it quite like this.

The word is that Oculus is working on generating a virtual reality version of a movie theater, designed to be a social and multi-player experience. The idea is actually pretty impressive in retrospect; Oculus is attempting to take the "theater experience," as it's known--often cited as perhaps the only reason left to go to a movie theater in the first place aside from sheer impatience--and condense it into a virtual reality experience. You'll be able to look around, like you would in a normal theater, and see the things that would normally be seen therein, but at the same time there would also be a big screen playing a movie, which you could watch. So you could sit with friends online and watch a movie, almost feeling like you're in a theater, and you can even talk to your friends as if they were in the seats around you.

Some may call this pointless, and indeed, it's sort of an unnecessary use of virtual reality. But by like token, there's a certain advantage to having that social experience, and with some appropriate tooling, the user can get access to this experience.

Watching movies was probably the second thing to come to mind when most people looked at the Oculus Rift, and with good reason: a virtual reality environment can effectively be used to simulate any environment thanks to various tricks of perspective, so why not use it to replicate the movie theater? The screen can easily look like it's several feet across and you're sitting a good ways away from it. Already eBay is positively lousy with head-mounted displays that promise simulated screens measuring in huge numbers, so surely the Oculus Rift had to be able to do likewise. Granted, some may not be too interested in watching a movie alone, so adding that social component could be a great way to distinguish itself from the herd. But by like token, so too could people want to watch a movie alone, and a tool like this could be just the ticket.

Naturally, this is still just the start. Everything from gaming to travel to education could be encompassed here, and we could be looking at the start of something very big. The problem, of course, will be a matter of connectivity; trying to bring streaming video in on an three meg connection is one thing, but adding a social component while streaming video might well be another. It's only time that will tell just how this all goes down, but it's looking like we'll need more bandwidth. A lot more bandwidth....

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