The experiments that are pushing Oculus Rift beyond gaming | Edge Online
The GravitySketch VR tablet has gone from an experimental prototype to something its design engineering student creators are actively seeking investors for. Oculus Rift may not be available to the public yet, but a rich subculture has emerged of modders, hackers, and developers who are using the development kit to experiment with the possibilities of virtual reality beyond gaming. The open nature of the platform means developers have been able to let their imaginations run wild, going so far as to augment the Rift with other hardware.
In Salted Perception, an experiment by German augmented reality developer Undev, a Kinect is strapped to the Rift headset with cable ties. When the software is activated, it relays the camera feed back to the Rift with colourful psychedelic filters applied. The resulting image is abstract and distorted, but you can pick out human movement. The weight of the Kinect means this retrofit isn’t exactly elegant, but hints at the AR possibilities if future Rift models were to incorporate a front-facing camera.
BeAnotherLab’s fascinating Gender Swap experiment also uses headset-mounted cameras, allowing two people of different sexes to see through each others’ eyes. The feeling is amplified by having both people agree to mimic each others’ hand movements. The Spanish studio behind the project says the idea is to use the Rift to teach empathy, and planned uses for the technology include giving people in wheelchairs the experience of being able to walk.
Indie developer Sagar Patel, formerly of Q-Games, has developed an experimental game for the Oculus Rift called Frequency Domain, which generates surreal landscapes with music. Import an audio file and the waveform of the track forms abstract polygonal mountains and canyons around you. Patel says seeing music visualised in this way has revealed intricacies in songs he never noticed before: Seeing the sound in the game helped me focus on it, and actually hear it through the rest of the sounds. In a future build he plans to implement the Leap Motion controller to introduce an additional element of interaction. The Rift really is a whole new frontier, and I can’t wait to see what new methods of interaction people come up with, especially when combined with other types of devices.
Some terrific examples of the fantastic development work happening for the Rift that isn’t about gaming. I hope this will start to show people who dismiss VR as just another gaming thing, that VR has some real world implications.