The Internet exploded in March when Mark Zuckerberg announced on his Facebook account that the social media giant was acquiring Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology. Luckily for gamers, Zuckerberg shared in his announcement that "Immersive gaming will be the first [experience for users], and Oculus already has big plans here that won't be changing and we hope to accelerate."
Despite Zuckerberg’s excitement for Oculus VR to continue along its gaming path, a lot of supporters were upset or at least concerned by the purchase. Many worried the virtual reality company would be hampered by the acquisition, but it looks like the company is doing well and making major progress. This week, Oculus VR acquired two technology companies that will greatly expand the experience users will have with the Rift headset.
The first acquisition was Nimble VR, a company that uses its Nimble Sense camera to incorporate users’ hands into the virtual reality experience with gesture recognition technology. The second was 13th Lab, which has developed accurate 3D construction framework technology that can be incorporated into the Oculus VR system.
Building these technologies into Oculus Rift, along with gaming systems like Virtuix Omni, will open up entire new worlds and immersive experiences for gamers. Imagine the excitement of surviving against a zombie horde, running for your life, shooting and punching the undead in a virtual experience. Gaming will never be the same and VR will be a lot more than looking around a digital environment, but manipulating it as well.
In a their official blog, Oculus VR shared their vision for 13th Lab's technology.
The ability to acquire accurate 3D models of the real-world can enable all sorts of new applications and experiences, like visiting a one-to-one 3D model of the pyramids in Egypt or the Roman Colosseum in VR.
While Oculus is talking about a simple visit to the Colosseum, consider the implications it has on gaming. Players could potentially play as a gladiator, fighting lions and tigers in front of thousands of Roman spectators. The only addition needed is a technology that provides the smells and tastes of the VR experience. We’ll keep an eye out for any Kickstarter campaigns developing such a technology.
Adding gesture recognition and 3D modeling have implications for Oculus VR that go far beyond gaming. People interested in pursuing a medical or engineering career for exampled, can experience surgeries or engine building in a virtual environment. The lines between training, exploring, socializing and entertainment will continue to blur as developers find opportunities to inject real-life situations into virtual reality games.
The timing of these acquisitions is good for Oculus VR as it nears release of its headset for consumers, which is expected for this summer, since the biggest question regarding the technology is how users can interact with what they see, and how they can receive feedback while doing so beyond sound and visuals.