The commercial success of virtual reality devices are pushing the nascent field into the mainstream. Already, we are seeing these new VR technologies transform a range of industries, from heavy manufacturing to casual gaming. At this critical moment, as the potential of VR is exploding, we are highlighting three unusual solutions in three different spheres.
Gaming – In with the Old, on to the New
Since its earliest days, virtual reality has lent itself to gaming solutions. In response to the possibilities offered by the newest VR devices, game developers are committing significant resources to designing VR-specific games. Program-Ace, a Ukrainian software development company specializing in AR and VR solutions, is looking at the situation from a different angle: what if the games you already love could be played in VR, simply and easily?
Though still in early development, Program-Ace is designing an Oculus visualization platform that will allow you to play any non-VR game you already own with Oculus Rift. Their premise is simple: connect Oculus Rift to a computer, suit up, and begin playing. Using a keyboard and mouse, users will be able to play the same game they have always loved, but now in a seamless virtual, 3D environment. The technology promises to be the sort of simple but ingenious innovation that could become a staple for every gamer.
Art – What’s it Like to Be Inside an Illustration?
Cutting edge technology and art often intersect in fascinating and ground-breaking ways. Virtual reality is proving to be no different. Already, artists working with several different platforms are beginning to experiment and explore the new options provided by this nascent field. Dear Angelica, slated for this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and the recent Phantom installation at the New Museum in New York City are showcasing some of the unusual yet stunning applications of VR technology.
Beautifully crafted with a watercolor-like feel, Dear Angelica invites viewers to explore a daughter’s memories of her mother. Sashka Unseld, famed for his work with Pixar and now a producer with Oculus Story Studio, described the project as an attempt to answer the question: “How would it feel … if we could be inside an illustration?” Produced in VR with Quill and intended to be seen with a VR device, Dear Angelica represents the first of what could become a standard medium of art.
Designed by the Spanish-born but Brazilian-based artist Daniel Steegman Mangrane, Phantom showcases the ability of VR to present participants with a whole new conception of art. Set in a Brazilian rainforest, the work of art’s haunting, shifting atmosphere creates an instant, powerful effect. Mangrane’s stated goal was to bring awareness to the ecology of spaces while keying in on the vital but overlooked interplay between the physical and psychological.
Law – CSI for Real-Life Jurors
There’s a good chance that the courtrooms of the near future may be far more virtual than they are now. Research conducted by scientists at the University of Zurich is exploring the possibility of using VR technology to recreate crime scenes. The hope will be that the 3D representations will give juries a more exact understanding of what truly happened.
The advantages of this technology would be clear. Instead of relying on ambiguous 2D pictures that may obscure angles, VR devices will allow juries to walk around crime scenes and examine details from various angles in order to literally see what went down. Critics, however, worry that this technology may allow prosecutors or defense attorneys to unduly bias juries by taking advantage of VR’s visceral experiences to distort just and rational conclusions.
A Brave New Virtual World
In the last few years, virtual reality has made quantum leaps in terms of usability and effectiveness. Developers are continuing to unlock new potentials, and specialists in various industries are increasingly experimenting with new ways to innovate with the new technologies. It is in no way a bold prediction to imagine a very near future that is replete with ingenious, but initially unusual, VR solutions.