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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A View Into the Future

A very short post today!

I just became aware of an exciting new product.  In fact, it's SO new that it is still under development.  There is, however, a working prototype that has impressed reviewers from Tom's Hardware to Forbes.  And the company has raised more than enough money (according to their estimates) to bring the product to market within two years.

The product is Oculus Rift , a new set of virtual reality "goggles".  They feature head tracking, so that when you move your head, the image you see moves correspondingly.  AND they show the world in 3D perspective, without the eye fatigue associated with "shutter" type 3D glasses.

The company is so sure that it will work that you can pre-order the thing today...at a price ($300) that is orders of magnitude less than the five-figure cost of similar devices made for "professional" VR applications.  Since I've been looking at putting together a triple monitor 27" screen setup, $300 looks pretty good from where I sit.

A product like this would bring a new level of immersion to virtual worlds like Second Life.  Of course, since you can't see your keyboard any more, the user interface would need a deal of work to be compatible with this new peripheral.  But, as they say, that's a trivial matter of engineering.  (Well, I HOPE that will prove to be the case!)

I can't say that Oculus Rift will be in time to save Second Life itself.  The grid has been shrinking slowly over the past couple of years.  This is not, in itself, cause for alarm (yet), but the trend does not appear to be slowing, and no one either in Linden Lab or among the Residents seems to have a good idea for stopping or reversing the decline.  But there will surely be SOME form of virtual world around to take advantage of the Oculus Rift VR goggles.

And that's pretty exciting, in my view.

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