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Like something straight out of a William Gibson novel, Oculus Rooms gives virtual reality (VR) users a new launchpad into the virtual universe.
Last month, Oculus announced its new VR launchpad, Oculus Rooms. Although Oculus Rooms is currently only available for Gear VR users, it will be coming to the Oculus Rift platform sometime in 2017. Oculus Rooms takes the concept of a loading menu to more of an onboarding process by throwing the user straight into a virtual space from the get-go. Although somewhat reminiscent of a Second Life lobby, Oculus Rooms provides the user with a comfortable space to get used to the concept of VR before getting completely lost in cyberspace.
Oculus Rooms Realizes Virtual Reality
After almost 30 years of hype, virtual reality is finally here. Facebook has firmly nailed its colors to the mast with continued investment in Oculus Rift and the new Oculus Rooms are an extension of that. Oculus Rooms aims to acclimatize VR users with a few simple zones, each of which serving to teach the user how to interact with the virtual world. Firstly, there is a TV and app launching area which allows users to immerse themselves in a cinema experience. One of the most interesting features here is that you can get up and walk away, helping bolster the feeling of being in a "real" space. There is also an area to chat with other VR users and somewhere to play a few primitive games.
Oculus Rooms looks like it will be a great launchpad for VR services and could become a first step on the road to attending a virtual event.
VR For Events
Facebook isn't the only big-name getting excited over VR. This Sunday, Fox Sports will be broadcasting Superbowl 51 from a virtual reality suite. The event will be beamed live to Gear VR and Google Cardboard users with a cable subscription. You can expect to see much more of this in 2017 with VR being so high on the agenda for sports broadcasters.
Intel also recently showed a keen interest in a virtual world by hosting its CES2017 press conference in VR. The silicon valley giant gave a clear demonstration how VR could become part of the fabric of events in the very near future.
2016: The Rise Of VR
2016 saw several VR headsets coming to market with plenty of software applications and peripheral hardware to help ease consumers into this new and exciting medium. Surprisingly, although a very new technology, the barrier to entry is surprisingly low. This is thanks in part to Google who entered the market at an exceptionally low price point with the Google Cardboard DIY headset, into which you simply slot your smartphone. The experience is considerably less user-friendly than Oculus and doesn't give you the nice cosy intro. It's a bit rough around the edges but it's a good start. If you haven't seen it yet, go and take a look. You can get started for as little as $15!
Thanks in part to Oculus Rooms and continued support from the world of sport, VR looks like it's here to stay. It's also evident that other areas of the event industry, such as conferences, will be impacted by virtual reality. VR is going to be a very important part of the event industry for the foreseeable future. For event professionals, now is the time to immerse yourself.
Image credit: Oculus