The Future of Technology, Part 2 – Virtual Reality

Last week we talked about the dream of robo-friends, household bots, and the realization of those dreams through a product called Jibo. However, there is way more going on in the technology arena that we need to talk about, and there is a point to the articles that I haven’t gotten to yet. This week, lets talk a little about the Birdie interface for the Oculus Rift and what these advancements mean for the future of small business.

The Birdly interface is a control mechanism for the Oculus Rift virtual reality unit. It’s an odd little platform that you climb aboard that allows you to simulate the controls of flying with a “bird suit” strapped to you. The idea is that, because humans can’t fully understand the intricacies of a bird’s flight, the Birdly simplifies the idea so you can experience what it feels like to fly with your own wings. The unit even creates simulated wind so the experience is more realistic. If you read this article about the Birdly experience on Wired, you’ll understand better.

What strikes me here, though, is the amazing experience that the Oculus system has managed to create at such a low price point, as well as what developers have been able to do with it. Back when I was in elementary school, there was a VR system set up at the Six Flags Magic Mountain park in Valencia California. I was lucky enough to have brought enough of my hard-earned lawn-mowing money to play it. It was $15 for 10 minutes of play, and it was (for me) a chance to experience what everyone had expected to be the next step in video gaming. We all planned on having one in our homes within the next 10 years. But alas, that wasn’t the case.

Virtual reality was prohibitively expensive to create. A visor unit that was light enough to not create discomfort yet still had the proper equipment for head-tracking, video playback, audio playback, and stereoscopic sight was something that cost a fortune. Add in the extra equipment needed to effectively play a game, including a stage area (head tracking was done with an external camera), a high powered computer (it took a small server farm of 4-5 units), and some form of playback monitor for any friends that might be present (social gaming was still done from the same room), and the cost and space requirement made virtual reality impossible for home use.

Here we are almost 20 years later, and Oculus has seemingly created virtual reality as a viable home entertainment system. It’s so good at what it does that it can make you believe, even if for a brief moment, that you can fly. That’s something incredible to me. It’s affordable, relatively small, and can (eventually) be used to control games on your home gaming PC. It’s a revolution that’s been a long time coming.

But the real message hits home. What does all of this technology mean for business owners? When I see this sort of technology created and becoming massively public, I see new ways that we must be capable of reaching our clients. In the case of Jibo, we need to know if we can create apps made for it or if we will be able to optimize our business to connect with it better. For Oculus, imagine creating advertisements that are miniature VR games, taking your clients through the world of your company, or a virtual tour of your property/apartments/homes/office. Imagine using the Oculus Rift for meetings with clients and boardrooms across the globe in ways that almost allow you to be there, maybe even controlling your own robo-representative.

The advancements are happening fast, and there is no sign of slowing. We need to get ahead of the curve or get left behind. Share your thoughts in the comments section, and have a great weekend!

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.