Leaping into the Rift
As I wait with bated breath for the invention of fully integrated holographic entertainment I can console myself with the knowledge that Facebook spending $400 million in cash and 1.6 billion in stock for the Oculus Rift means that Virtual Reality will become a reality in the very near future. Not that Virtual reality is a new concept however the Rift is the first attempt to make such an entertainment system really commercially viable.
On the 5th I was able to experience the Rift, after lining up from 5:00 AM for the incredibly anticipated Game of Thrones exhibit. I climbed into a barred cage and was strapped into a headset. The headphones blocked out all sounds while I looked out over Castle Black, the wide landscape of the snow covered North stretched out into mountains in front of me. Here the virtual experience was enhanced by cold air being blown across my face, a sudden shake signified the start as I was suddenly rising, taking the lift up the wall. Thrown into confusion as my brain said I was moving but my body disagreed, I gripped the sides of the elevator tightly. Reaching the top, I turned around, and the simulation pulled me forward to the edge of the wall. I looked over into the forest below and down the length of the wall.
I won’t spoil how the simulation ended in case you find the GoT exhibit travelling to your town but the experience left [me] a little disorientated but greatly excited. The graphics were a bit cloudy and grainy considering the age of Blu Ray movies and 4k gaming, although Oculus Rift has just released a HD game developer pack so they are already working to fix it. But how does the Rift hold up in a fully interactive gaming environment? Matthew Waterworth, the Australian Correspondent for KBMOD, had a rare chance to play the classic Team Fortress 2 on the Rift.
There is still no official word on the release of the Oculus Rift for commercial use, however with the purchase from Facebook and the send out of the HD developer kit it is rumored that it can be as soon as this year or early next. The Oculus is set to sell for under $300. This is just the Oculus, mind you, and while it is the most prominent name, both Sony and Samsung are throwing their hats into the ring in developing their own VR headsets.
Unfortunately the Rift is at least a few months away from commercial release. In the meantime, amuse yourselves with the videos of people freaking out during a rollercoaster simulation on the Rift. It is hilarious.
By Clare Belshaw