The Oculus Rift is taking the tech world by storm and over 85,000 units of the development kit have been sold. Besides the development of gaming applications to take advantage of the virtual reality headset, many more uses for the device have been suggested.
The Norwegian Army, for example, is researching how it can use the Oculus Rift to enable drivers to see the view around their tanks, while the hatch is closed. According to Norwegian tech site Teknisk Ukeblad, four cameras with spherical lenses give drivers a 360-degree view around their tanks. The cameras’ feeds are transferred to an Oculus Rift headset worn by the tank driver. Major Ola Petter Odden, from the army’s Combat Lab, says that the Rift offers an improved view to drivers, akin to that of “sitting inside a transparent vehicle.”
Other ideas are less practical but just as cool. Recent footage using GoPro’s attached to birds has given a unique insight into flight from a birds perspective. A new virtual reality machine called Birdly seeks to make that perspective even more real. Designed by students at Zurich University of the Arts, Birdly is an installation that pairs an Oculus Rift with a mechanical simulator-suit. When strapped to the suit, it guides the ‘rider’s movements in sync with the visual feed from the headset. This is combined with a front-mounted fan to reproduce the sense of wind rushing past you and complete the simulated flight experience. To make things even more realistic, olfactory senses are stimulated as well; as you pass over different landscapes you’re exposed to different smells to match the view.
Birdly is an impressive attempt at creating a fully immersive virtual reality experience and I definitely want a go, but after that I’m not sure how many people would want to strap themselves to a table for a quick flight. Meanwhile, having been purchased by Facebook for $2 billion, Oculus is currently tussling with Zenimax over the rights to the technology, so watch this space. Via Gizmodo.