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Future Tech: 

5 Ways Oculus Rift Will Go Beyond Gaming

oculus rift – going beyond gaming

Peering into the future with Oculus Rift

What do you think of when we say Oculus Rift? If you’re anything like us, you’re probably picturing the crowded corner of a technology conference, where queues of eager gamers stand around impatiently waiting to road-test the latest virtual reality experience. Each year these games get better – to the point that now it’s actually quite terrifying – but there’s more to VR than simply gaming.

While games like Alone in the Rift and Alien: Isolation are doing wonders for taking virtual reality mainstream, in other industries the potential is even greater. With that in mind, then, here are just 5 ways in which Oculus Rift could change the world.

1. Virtual tourism

Exploring the fictional worlds designed for Oculus Rift is one thing, but how about using a headset to experience real-world wonders? Oculus Street View was designed by Italian developer Luca Siciliano Viglieri, harnessing Google Maps to give users first-person tours of pretty much anywhere on Earth.

Travelling the world with Oculus Rift is not perfect – as Google Maps’ database is built from still photography, moving along a road has the same jumps from point-to-point as on the desktop. However, free from mouse-clicking navigation and with the added visual impact offered by the Rift, this is the next best thing to actual travel. Who knows – perhaps in a few years we’ll never have to leave our living rooms.

oculus rift virtual tourism

Visiting Genoa, Italy through the eyes of Oculus Rift

2. Phobia treatment

Another significant use for virtual reality could be psychological treatment and exposure therapy, commonly used to treat phobias.

Fernando M Tarnogol, psychologist and founder of PsyTech LLC, has been experimenting with Oculus Rift to help cure anxieties including claustrophobia and arachnophobia. In the case of somebody afraid of spiders, for instance, the patient could confront their 8-legged demons with the comfort of being able to fling their headset across the room at any moment and return to a safe, spiderless environment. Similar treatments might be used for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic distress, whereby the patient can reconstruct the traumatic events in a controlled space.

3. 3D field trips

As well as virtual tourism for curious adults, Oculus Rift could be used in the classroom to help engage students in geography and history. As well as recreating field trips at a fraction of the cost, virtual reality has the potential to take children back in time to watch notable historical events unfold, or even into outer space to explore the solar system.

4. Architecture

Much like class field trips, creating prototypes of buildings is an expensive business. Oculus Rift could provide a more cost-effective alternative, with the technology now in place to create realistic architectural visualisations.

Arch Virtual is a company that specialises in exactly that, converting architectural drawings into a 3D gaming engine compatible with Oculus Rift. Okay, it’s a gaming engine, but it’s not a game – at least not a very good one. For businesses looking to visualise their blueprints though, it could be invaluable.

5. Interactive movie and TV experiences

Back to entertainment – but still outside of games – we’re already seeing experiments with virtual reality in the worlds of TV and movies. As immersive as our favorite shows can be, with Oculus Rift we could soon visit the set and experience fantasy worlds just as the characters do.

One show that’s already experimented with this technology is Game of Thrones, which gave fans the chance to climb the icy Wall of Westeros at this year’s South By South West festival. Visitors to the attraction were asked to step inside a cage and strap on the Oculus Rift, before being blasted with cold air to replicate the feeling of walking along the 700ft wall. A Gizmodo writer who tested the exhibit described the experience as “super immersive” and “intense” – so perhaps we’ll need some of that VR phobia treatment first. *Gulp* – You go first?

Photo: James Looker / Future / REX

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