The uForis team traveled to "Oculus Connect", Oculus' inaugural conference, in sunny California last month. Aside from reuniting with our friends and colleagues in the space, we met many, many more passionate people who are determined to shape the future of virtual reality. And at this conference, we have indeed seen the future of virtual reality. We returned to rainy Vancouver, British Columbia, and had numerous discussions about what we have seen. This field is wide-open and there is much to be discovered, from the best input mechanism to experiences that truly invoke "presence", the ultimate goal of virtual reality. We have some ideas, and one thing we know for sure is that we are more committed than ever to find the best experiences this new platform has to offer.
The biggest news that came out of Oculus Connect was the announcement of "Crescent Bay", a new prototype of the consumer-grade headset currently in development at Oculus. It vastly improved upon all the categories that need to be perfectly calibrated for true presence: tracking, latency, persistence, resolution, and optics.
Oculus did not confirm the exact specifications of Crescent Bay. We know that it runs at 90Hz, has a higher resolution and FOV, and 360-degree tracking. However, none of this mattered as we stepped into the booth to take it for a spin ourselves.
The future of virtual reality
To say that Crescent Bay transformed our view of virtual reality is accurate, but does not capture the emotional response we had. As enthusiasts, we've been believers since the first time we put on a headset. However, for those of us who are also fans of Snow Crash, Ready Player One, Star Trek, and many science fiction works, we harboured expectations of what virtual reality should look like, and continued to be aware of what fell short. Crescent Bay convinced us that virtual reality is here to stay. Many attendees we spoke to were similarly affected by the experience - people with tears in their eyes, people trying to get a second glimpse, etc. - and told anyone who would listen about their time with it.
As Oculus Chief Scientist Michael Abrash said at his keynote, however, one needs to experience it first-hand in order to understand. At uForis, we found that this is true for virtual reality in general. As we speak about virtual reality at various occasions, attempts to convey our enthusiasm and belief in virtual reality are inadequate until we bring out the headset - Google Cardboard works for this too! - and show our audience what's in store. What comes after they take off the headset is the best part of what we do: they thank us, then proceed to tell us with great ebullience what they're looking forward to.
What's next for uForis
As for what the uForis team is looking forward to, there're a few irons in the fire. We're drawing upon our experience developing games to create small interactive experiments, and we're going to see if we can apply our "browser" technology - the ability to view different multimedia content - to industries not related to gaming.
While virtual reality is driven by gaming at the moment, other sectors can benefit from it as well. Imagine seeing the Pyramids of Giza from the comfort of your home. Imagine starting your search for a new home in a new city, and only paying for a ticket when you've narrowed down your search. Imagine doctors and first responders receiving training to save lives.
The phrase "transporting you to another world" remained elusive for VR since its inception. The chance to rectify that has come, although many experiments are needed to find out what a great experience looks like. Thomas Edison said: “When I have finally decided that a result is worth getting, I go ahead on it and make trial after trial until it comes.” The time to experiment is now, and we are very excited at the opportunities to do so that are afforded by our technology, network, and community.