Oculus Rift has several applications that both intrigues the masses and offers to pay certain parties handsomely. The project, which sprang from the crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter, has grown to intrigue many different businesses in many different vocations. Since Oculus was funded, developers have been able to order kits, or a malleable version of the software, to use to experiment with the application of their product in virtual reality. Numerous companies, such as Netflix and gaming studio Creative Assembly, have taken advantage of that opportunity and may soon be ready to express their results.
Acquired by Facebook in March for $2 billion, the set of virtual reality equipment is already making headlines before it even hits the open market. A “bug bounty program,” so named by Facebook, has begun for the developers with a kit in their possession. A $500 minimum will be paid to any security researchers that can find any bugs within the software with no limit on how much can be earned.
A security engineer for Facebook, Nick Poole, said that the problem area for the technology is within the messaging system and that this is the time to catch any bugs they can. “A lot of the issues,” Poole explains, “are not necessarily in the hardware yet.” He adds that should interested parties find problems in other parts of the hardware or software that those may be worth a larger bounty and are certainly welcome to be found.
The applications for Oculus Rift intrigue many parties, especially those that have already paid for a sampling kit to demonstrate the technology. Technically, any entity that is willing to pay for a kit of the software could take and use the item for their project. Netflix is one that recently grabbed one of these kits and turned their streaming service into a virtual movie gallery by the name of Oculix. By using head tilts and hand gestures, Rift wearers can simply grab a title along their peripheral vision or browse using a full three-dimensional effect. The illusion is completed once a selection is made, bringing up walls and a screen to simulate a movie theater experience strapped to your eyes.
Outside the realm of entertainment, Oculus Rift has been shown as a viable teaching tool for surgeons as well. Wearing an Oculus device, a doctor could rewind and go through a surgical procedure from a first-person perspective, more accurately showing technique and form. This was the topic of an experiment by Remi Rousseau using synchronized GoPro cameras and the Oculus software. Rousseau, while doubtful that Facebook would look to market this kind of application for their hardware, hopes Rift themselves will develop software that could be as helpful in the future.
Video game companies are also intrigued by the pay potential of Oculus Rift. Minecraft creator Markus Persson disliked the idea of Facebook owning the hardware at first, but has since changed moods and decided that Minecraft could be coming to the virtual reality world. A tweet shared his feelings of “officially” being over the acquisition and moving on to being upset at holes in his socks. Creative Assembly made some waves at the E3 gaming conference by having their first-person horror game, Alien: Isolation, be playable through Oculus Rift, and bringing some yells from patrons in the process.
By Myles Gann