Oculus Rift – Gamers are in for an upgrade of the virtual reality sort thanks to the Oculus Rift. This Kickstarter driven set of head tracking 3D goggles are poised to be at big deal in the future of gaming with some key game developers signing on to develop games for this user interface. While it is impossible to get a feel for the immersive nature of the experience without actually trying it for yourself, the videos indicates that a much wider field of view (full peripheral vision) and almost instantaneous responsiveness differentiate the headset from the VR we knew and hated in the nineties.
If the experience is as exciting as those using it seem to indicate, and these devices become as common in homes around the world as the xbox kinect, retailers will be looking at yet another channel for customers to buy goods and services.
While a shopping mall or store in a Second Life like environment might seem an obvious idea, more immersive and interesting experiences would be possible in this space. Imagine a virtual tour of a new car where a potential customer can get in the car and move their head all around to get a complete idea of the layout and size of the vehicle, and even take a virtual test drive before even visiting a showroom. The potential uses for immersive brand experiences are incredible.
Illumiroom – Microsoft Research has also posted a video of a concept for gaming that could change the experience of interacting with a screen. The Illumiroom concept scans the room and then projects visual elements within the room to expand the viewing area from just the TV screen to the entire room – effectively making the entire room you are in part of the experience. The demo shows the system scanning the room to calibrate projection and then expands the background video across the room. The video even appears to show books shaking on shelves in response to explosions on the screen.
Once again, while gaming has already shown some utility in consumer facing environments with various retail Kinect hacks the Illumiroom concept in the hands of creative types could drive a whole new type of online or even store environment to provide some unique experiences to customers.
Many have lamented that shopping for music and books is just not the same in a virtual world. What if instead of windowshop, Amazon could project a more traditional bookstore across your living room? You could walk through and look at virtual displays of curated books and select them for download to Kindle. It not only provides a novel experience, but provides the potential for purchasing in the more serendipitous way that always seems to be missing from online shopping. More first person browsing might occur than first person shooting.