We’re blessed in this generation to be playing on some of the most advanced gaming consoles ever made, with graphics that are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from real life. (Shown above, GTA 5 Graphics). So what’s next? Where do we go from here? Spoiler alert, Virtual Reality (VR) is the answer. Once upon a time it was a pipe dream for 80s kids dreaming about the future, but now with equipment such as the Oculus Rift, it’s safe to predict that we’ll all be using virtual reality in some way or another in the next few years.
Virtual reality is an immersive experience. It provides an unparalleled 3D view that is panoramic, giving the user a sense of actually being there, in the game or simulation. We’ve already had a small taste of virtual reality since 2007 and the dawn of Google Street view. However, 2016 is about looking forward to a type of virtual reality where you’re almost cut off from the real world, in headsets where outside influences can’t interrupt your experience.
It’s a similar premise to the arcade machines that offered flight simulations in pods, where you get an almost 4-d experience, with sounds, visuals and movement around you that imitates what’s happening on screen. Simulators have come on leaps and bounds in virtual reality too, and some of these ‘pod’ style simulators can even offer things like smells, tastes and rumbles that really bring what you are watching to life.
The Oculus Rift however, will give you the chance to enjoy the full simulation experience in your own home, and it’s an ounce of the size of the large simulators that need to be brought in by truck! This headset surrounds your vision, including that which is peripheral, and reacts to the turn of your head. That’s certainly a lot more control and offers a lot more possibilities than a traditional joystick! Imagine being in game and turning to look behind you, only to be ambushed by zombies!
Yes, on that point we do know that the Oculus Rift is going to cause more at home insurance claims than the Wii ever has, but we’re still excited. At the moment the Oculus Rift is still being developed, but tech giant Facebook has bought the company, so the future looks bright for further advancement. Potential Add-Ons to the Oculus Rift have also been speculated, with ideas such as gloves that offer touch sensations being put forward.
Aside from the hype around Oculus Rift, other companies have been hopping on the bandwagon, wary of the huge potential of Virtual Reality as the next step. Playstation announced in 2014 a project called Project Morpheus which is currently in development; it will be a virtual reality headset for the Playstation 4. Nintendo have also filed patents for VR technology that tracks user’s eye movements, offering an in-game reaction. There’s also the Virtuix Omni. This is a device similar to the Oculus Rift, but it also incorporates an omnidirectional treadmill, so users could actually walk through their game environment.
Virtual reality is here and here to stay! We offer the immersive experience on a number of our racing simulators using Project Cars and offer you the chance to experience the effects of VR coupled with motion simulation and professional level driving controls. We are also experimenting with the use of VR for other sports and flight based simulators which will be available in the future, so keep posted on our exciting developments.
We’re sure it might have a bumpy start, but much like our parents played the early Atari consoles that most kids can’t fathom enjoying these days, perhaps our children will one day be playing advanced virtual reality games and we’ll be looking back at the Oculus Rift with nostalgia!