The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at iq.intel.com, we are showcasing new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and getting reactions from Intel experts.
This week the Future of Entertainment series is delving into a trend we’ve identified as Immersive Story Environments. As technology becomes more advanced, content producers are leveraging it to build virtual reality experiences that thrust their audience into the middle of a alternate universe, where they’re able to become the characters from their favourite games, bringing a level of interaction and immersion never before experienced.
The notion of head-top goggles as the gateway to a virtual reality experience is not new; it is has long been the way science fiction movies have imagined VR, but now it may soon be accessible to the everyday gamer. The Oculus Rift headset by Oculus VR made big headlines last year when it raised $2.4 million in crowdfunding through a Kickstarter campaign. Now with an additional $16 million investment from venture capitalists, the goggles are almost ready for market.
The Oculus Rift came out of 20-year-old founder, Palmer Luckey’s, search for a similar product, and resulting realization that there was nothing comparable on the market. “My goal actually wasn't to make something," he explains to Eurogamer. "It was actually just to buy something - I assumed there must be something out there that was really good that I could use for gaming.” When he couldn’t find the perfect product, Luckey, an enthusiastic collector of head-mounted displays and a hardware hacker hobbyist, tried to make his own.
After multiple prototypes of the wearable device, the current iteration of the VR goggles consist of a headband and attached LCD screen, with a barrier so that each eye sees the screen separately, giving the experience a sense of depth. In combination with the illusion of distance, the goggles include a motion-tracking technology, which means the 3D environment will respond to your head movements, providing a truly immersive experience.
The user’s eyes are completely enveloped by the visual stimulus, causing their brain to feel that the computerized world is their actual environment. As such, the product creates a sense of complete immersion and generates an enhanced level of interaction between gamer and game. The potential for communication within the virtual world is endless, CEO Brendan Iribe told Edge,“I think a lot will come from the social and emotional side that nobody has even seen yet. Like, you’ll know where the player’s eyes are, and characters can now look at you and say ‘hey what’s up?’ and if you look away they’ll be like, ‘hey what’s going on?’ There’s a lot of emotion you can spark in [VR] that you just can’t on a TV.”
With it’s the promise of a literal game changing experience, the Rift could usher in a whole new era of gameplay. While technology such as the Xbox Kinect is a gaming peripheral, the Oculus Rift is a platform in its own right, which means developers will be able to write games specifically for the headset. On track to be released next year at a price point hovering around $300, the goggles could make virtual reality an actual reality and gamers will become part of the story, which is just what our trend Immersive Story Environments is all about. To see another manifestation of technology drawing viewers in further than ever before, check in tomorrow when the Future of Entertainment series takes a look at Microsoft’s Illumiroom.
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