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It appears there will be another Rift development kit (whether for the public, or for private partners, he doesn't say), with higher resolution and positional tracking. Carmack says that VR is going to 'change the world'. I believe him.

Is this newer than the 1080p model that was being shown at gaming conventions earlier this year, or is this just that dev kit finally shipping?

It might change gaming, but as a non-gamer I don't see much point. If the idea is to woo non-gamers like me with amazing games, it's going to have to be cheap and casual, and neither of those are natural adjectives for the Rift. If the idea is to really take over the world, somebody somewhere had better think of an actually compelling office/business use for it. Jurassic Park scientists examining DNA does not count.

For what it's worth, VR has been trying to become a thing since the mid-80s. Much like 3D, it bubbles to the surface for a few years and then nobody cares again for the rest of the decade.

Carmack is clearly an amazing programmer, but I'd like to know what his prognosticatory credentials are. He's also predicting Haskell will be a big deal in gaming. You can be amazing and still be a crackpot. Look at Linus Pauling for instance.

I don't play many games either, but one thing I'd really like to use the Rift for is a big virtual desktop. Not a 3D desktop like in the movies, just a regular 2D desktop.

I could have the equivalent of six 30'' screens in front of me; I could switch between them just by turning to look at them - all whilst actually only using a laptop on the sofa (or on the train, but I might look a little odd doing it).

To be good this would require the Rift to have reached a resolution where I can't see the individual pixels - the '4k resolutions' mentioned in the article perhaps. Even if such a device cost $1000 it would still be cheaper than all of those screens.

I can honestly see such a thing being tremendously useful for people who do CAD, deal with big architecture diagrams etc... People who generally like to use a lot of monitors for day to day work.

There are big problems with the optics and resolution of the current rift display that would keep you from wanting to use it as a monitor. Even the HD version won't fix that, but perhaps the future 4K version will be better in that respect. Right now the pixels are too big, too blurry, and inconsistent with respect to turning your head or moving your eyes. All of these things will improve in time, but the current rift feels very far away from replacing a single 30" monitor at the job of displaying email or web pages (much less your enhanced virtual desktop).

Now this, I have to admit, sounds awesome to me.

VEs are great for applications beyond gaming. Especially cheap and accessible VEs. Yeah, the technology has existed for a long time, but it was always expensive. Very expensive. Now it will be available much more cheaply.

One application is therapy, for example to combat phobias. So you show someone with a fear of public speaking (to the extent where they have panic attacks) a room full of people and let them speak. This is already in use, but mostly done in front of monitors.

No, not world changing but still very cool.

This is the best example anyone has thrown out yet. Still pretty niche though.

I think Oculus Rift i combination with something like Leap could lead the way for useful 3D-interfaces. I don’t like the term VR reality. To me it’s the skeuomorphism of the 3D-world. Instead of trying to simulate the real world, why not use 3D to express more abstract concepts (like we already are doing with 2D screens).

Of course, in time something like holograms will be more relevant, but in the mean time I think things like Oculus Rift in combination with other technologies can be a nice stop-gap.

Skeuomorphism is necessary to ease people into a radically new/different interface. Once they've grown accustomed to the new interface, then the skeuomorphism can be removed as it has gone from guidance to impediment. For VR, people aren't used to literally looking & moving around a 3D environment, so recreating the real world is necessary to ease them into the differences of the interface until they grasp it...THEN we can start changing what's perceived to express more abstract concepts.

For all the familiarity people have with the abstractions of interfaces on 2D screens, they're still just a flat limited surface within the space of our visual perception, and required skeuomorphism to ease people into familiarity therewith. VR is a massive change, which has to start by satisfying familiarity via sufficient imitation of the real world; once someone gets comfortable using it to the point of foregoing real scenarios in favor of virtual ones, then we can start tweaking the virtual to do things previously impossible and yet are natural extensions of their new understanding of the VR interface.

The Leap itself isn't very practical with the rift/VR since it needs line of sight with your fingers and tilting your hand sideway causes a loss of detection of most of your fingers. You would need multiple sensors at different locations to overcome this which doesn't seem practical. I find wands (razer hydra) to be useful, like how a mouse is more accurate than touch. The multiple physical buttons and extra controls like analogue joysticks and triggers is a benefit too.

I want to agree with you, but with 2D the non-gaming uses were obvious and immediately saw use and I don't see that with 3D.

I believe it will be important in the architectural and 3D design fields, particularly when interacting with lay people. In the architecture industry, for example, the most common refrain I hear is that clients, who might be spending hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of dollars on a building, can't understand the plans they're looking at; can't visualize their unbuilt structures. This technology changes that; enables them to walk through and fully immerse themselves in their building before it's ever built. It's a visualization game changer.

One might further theorize that the design profession itself might be fundamentally changed by it. When you think about it, the mouse and keyboard isn't an ideal medium for this type of design; it's a crude interaction. Why look at a scaled wireframe of a structure when you might be able to virtually build a structure while being inside it - using your hands and eyes, like clay. You could use your arms to gesture, saying "I want this wall here, and to be this high"; "I want a 3'x5' window on this wall, here", etc. You could mold structures with your hands with this type of virtual reality and some type of motion tracking. It would be ground-breaking.

Fully immersive virtual reality is nearly equivalent to teleportation. What if anyone could travel to any location on Earth that had the right camera systems? If anyone could visit the Great Wall of China? If anyone could visit the moon? If anyone could experience the Syrian civil war from the ground?

It might change our actions as people and as societies. Other mediums like film, television, and the Internet certainly have.

The system has to meaningfully improve on watching a movie to matter. Yet, most people did not like the frame rate improvement in the Hobbit movie because it made the film too lifelike, ruining the cinematic experience. Higher resolution is not automatically more desirable. The same fact underlies lots of movements in music (lo-fi, punk, black metal, etc).

I don't know what kind of VR you have tried, but the experience of being "in" a rift is fundamentally different to watching a movie. The dev kit is extremely low res, has ghosting issues etc. Still it seems to have a visceral impact on most people who've tried it, much more than a 4k/96hz 3d movie. It feels like you're in another world, not like you're watching 3d graphics on a screen in front of your eyes.

I'll grant that maybe the immersiveness will somehow lead to useful applications. The therapeautic example given by arrrgh above, for instance. I still don't see good examples of general applications, but I'm probably coming across as moving the goal posts and I don't want to be an unhelpful stick in the mud so I think I'm going to resign the thread shortly. But I have greatly appreciated the replies I've gotten.

I don't think immersiveness is necessarily a desirable property in entertainment. Movies, for instance, seem to be less immersive when they're more realistic (the Hobbit movie, for instance). There is something eerie about daytime soaps that arises partly out of their higher framerate. McLuhan did say something to the effect of movies being a "cool" media, meaning you could be absorbed into them. This characteristic seems to be inverse to higher detail. If I were to make a bald-faced guess, I would mumble something about higher sensory refinement taking processing away from appreciating the other aspects of the art. I don't think it's impossible that the fidelity we have today for film is essentially perfect as far as our perception and enjoyment goes--that is, after all, the case for music. This might sound like a controversial opinion here, amongst people who have inherent appreciation for the technical, but amongst our families I bet it will sound more plausible.

Anyway, thanks.

I think it's nearly inevitable that the immersiveness will lead to some useful stuff. We have a lot of biological circuitry that can take advantage of the extra bandwidth of VR. Already there's some niche applications[1] that show potential improvement on 2d solutions. Voice chat with avatars in a 3d space[2] looks like it could be useful for remote collaboration.

That said, I don't know what percentage of people will want to become fully immersed in a computer world. It can be disorientating when you put on the headset and the real world gets replaced by a computer generated one. I think the majority of the world probably won't jump on board until convincing augmented reality becomes possible. I kind of see VR as a building block for AR since they share a lot of the same problems.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWGBRsV9omw

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stLYp8KnjvM&t=1m

There were plenty of complaints from some film critics, which is a particular audience, but I don't think you can take that and say most people didn't like the high frame rate version of The Hobbit.

Oculus : Gaming :: Facebook : Harvard

As a statement of your beliefs it would be hard to be more concise. I'm going to need more than your or Carmack's faith to be convinced.

It is going to revolutionize education. Why would children watch a slideshow about ancient Egypt when they can walk in a digital recreation made by brilliant artists/game designers who worked with leading historians, archeologists, etc. I'll warrant that experiencing things "first hand" will make people learn faster/better.

What's essential about your argument is the spending money on something nice, not the 3D element. We can do that today, and do with IMAX. I think making it first person will fail to work exactly the same way "edutainment" has always failed, and the 3D part is completely incidental.

I was at an EdTech conference recently and listening to a talk given by a guy who developed training simulators for a living, predominately for mining. That isn't gaming (although they do hire out of the gaming development pool) and is a pretty serious practical application of this sort of thing.

There is a pretty big segment of industry out there for which more realistic simulation of the environment without the need for specialised environments (the aforementioned mining equipment simulators were literally small rooms) would be a huge bonus.

As an educator sure, more immersive stuff for things like geography, history etc would be nice, but I think the training (vs teaching) aspect is more interesting.

> It might change gaming, but as a non-gamer I don't see much point.

It will have a disruptive change to more than gaming. Here's why I believe so:

If you look at human history, we started with writing, then newspapers, then radio, followed by television. The way in which we consume media hasn't changed from television/displays. Virtual reality is the next evolutionary step in media consumption. The final step being human-computer interfaces.

I think because it enters us into a new realm it will be disruptive.

You're assuming your conclusion. "VR is the next step, so it will be huge." I'm saying, if it is the next step, how about some examples of how it will be used in the office? How is the lady at the DMV going to do her job better with VR? How's mechanic going to do a better job with VR? I don't even see how this is going to help me pass the time at the DMV, if I have to haul it around and look like a tool while I'm using it. Never underestimate the importance of not looking like a tool! How many people do you see walking around with bluetooth headsets today?

All of the examples you mentioned had applications besides entertainment, and in most cases those applications came first. As far as I can see, VR does not have any application outside entertainment. Maybe we're at a point where an innovation in entertainment is "sufficient" to disrupt things, but it's not safe to assume that making something more realistic is going to make it better. The 3D movie/TV craze is greatly diminished today compared to a couple years ago. There shouldn't be anything surprising about that--Hollywood has been trying to get people excited about 3D movies since the 50s, but the simple reality is that we are not insufficiently entertained without it.

I read a post earlier today about an Oculus Rift application built on the Unity 3D engine that can be used to let people virtually explore houses or offices before construction has been started. The post had some architect quoted as saying that pitching to customers was a lot easier when they can see what it will look like first hand.

I can't find the exact post now, but this link shows the same technology.


This is the first I've thought of it, but there is one area that stands to really be improved if they chose to use this technology: porn. And I've heard that supposedly the porn industry is one of the largest drivers of technology when it comes to media consumption.

Especially if they get into the peripheral market...

Have you noticed your Blu-ray player doesn't have the "switch angle" button your DVD player had? The porn industry argued to have that added to the DVD standard. Nobody used it then and nobody uses it now.

Has Carmack actually predicted that Haskell will be a big deal? I know he's said he WANTS functional programming to be a big deal, and that he's looking to do a Haskell-coded game or engine. But I can't find a prediction on a quick search. Pushing is a lot more sane than predicting. :)

I think there are a lot of people out there running three screens with multiple video cards driving them. The Rift could actually be cheaper, while being a more immersive experience. I was a skeptic as well until I saw the demo video of iRacing. Wow.

Have you tried both old VR units and the Oculus demo unit?

I have not tried the Oculus demo unit but I don't see what that has to do with what I'm saying. If I can't use it at the DMV it's probably not casual enough.

Safer driving tests that don't require a car on the road?

The Oculus itself will not change the world that much, but VR certainly will. The Oculus is simply a step towards real VR. Try to imagine a world in which you can actually lose track of, or be mistaken about exactly which level of simulation you're currently experiencing. Think long term.

Think outside your niche. What you're describing isn't something most people actually want.

In 1985, you might have said the same about pocket computers, if I'd called them that. But in 2013, the stereotype of the human staring down at their smartphone is near universal.

They've been trying to get us to buy VR headsets since 1997. Every ten years or so a company comes along and tries to change the world with this technology. The problem is that while we all have a use for non-immersive tools like pocket computers, very few seem to have a use for immersive VR. The companies making this stuff and technologists like us like to believe that the limiting factor is the technology or the cost. It isn't. It's that almost nobody needs this stuff and not many want it. It's not a technical shortcoming that will be overcome next week or a first-mover problem. It's that VR lacks the kind of universal applications that computing has.

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