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The Oculus Rift has drifted in and out of tech news for the past two years and the information that filters out is more and more promising every month.  Think the Rift is only for gaming? You may be pleasantly surprised.

While it’s true that the Oculus Rift is going to revolutionize the gaming industry Oculus Rift Will Change Gaming Forever Oculus Rift Will Change Gaming Forever The StarTrek Holodeck - the epitome of a virtual immersive environment - has been a sci-fi dream for far too long now. A week ago, Oculus launched a Kickstarter project for a $300 consumer VR... Read More , there’s so much more to it than that. The technology is poised to revolutionize a number of non-gaming fields, including medicine, education, and tourism 5 Amazing Non-Gaming Ways People Are Using Oculus Rift 5 Amazing Non-Gaming Ways People Are Using Oculus Rift "It's just a gimmick." That's what people said about the Wiimote, the Kinect, and more recently Google Glass, and that's what they're saying about the Oculus Rift. If you're one of them, I implore you... Read More . Not a gamer? Not a problem. The Oculus Rift is for you, too.

As virtual reality continues to mature, it’s going to blow your mind Why Virtual Reality Technology Will Blow Your Mind in 5 Years Why Virtual Reality Technology Will Blow Your Mind in 5 Years The future of virtual reality includes head, eye and expression tracking, simulated touch, and much more. These amazing technologies will be available to you in 5 years or less. Read More . Here’s a taste of what you can expect in the coming years.

Stationary Motion Simulator

The Oculus Rift is excellent when it comes to delivering audio and visual feedback, but the human body relies on five other senses (audio, touch, smell, taste, acceleration, and proprioception), all of which can help add to the experience of immersion. The Feel Three is a platform that supplements virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift, in order to provide a more holistic virtual ride.

Despite the cheesy music and CGI, there’s a lot of potential in the concept shown above. It’s one thing to be transported into terrifying horror scenarios 5 Horrifying Oculus Rift Demos Perfect For Halloween 5 Horrifying Oculus Rift Demos Perfect For Halloween Relive your favorite scariest movie - it's the immersive properties of the Oculus Rift that make it precisely so great for gaming, and particularly horror. Read More or to play virtual reality video games 5 Oculus Rift Gaming Experiences That Will Blow You Away 5 Oculus Rift Gaming Experiences That Will Blow You Away Now that the second generation of Oculus Rift development kit is out and in the hands of developers the world over, let's look at some of the best stuff that's hit the Rift so far. Read More , but exploring a virtual world supplemented with real, physical sensations is something else entirely.  While it isn’t the first available platform for motion simulation, the options currently on the market are expensive, dangerous, fragile, or all of the above. The Feel Three promises to be affordable, robust, safe, and configurable to your needs. Watch for the Kickstarter campaign to begin sometime in 2015.

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Full-Body Flight Simulator

Bringing other senses into VR is a huge challenge, and many teams are pursuing it. One experience, Birdly allows you to feel what it feels like to be a bird, using a mechanical, wing-flapping armature in conjunction with a VR headset.

Developed by a team at the Zurich University of the Arts, Birdly combines many different feedback systems that trick your body into thinking that you’re actually flying over a cityscape. You lie down on the platform and the following occurs:

  • The motion simulator moves you up/down to simulate lift.
  • The motion simulator also tilts forward/backward to simulate diving.
  • Wing panels must be “flapped” to move in the simulation.
  • A fan blows on you, with a speed controlled by your velocity in the game.

Even though it’s already quite immersive, the project is only a year old so there’s still a lot of room for improvements. How much better will it get? Only time will tell.

Oculus Rift On A Roller Coaster

Have you seen the Oculus Rift demo 5 Oculus Rift Demos That Will Blow Your Mind 5 Oculus Rift Demos That Will Blow Your Mind Forget the Playstation 4 or the Xbox One - I've seen the future of gaming, and it is neither of them. The Oculus Rift is amazing - and with $16 million in fresh funding, the... Read More that takes you on a roller coaster ride around a castle setting? It was one of the first demos to garner a lot of public attention, mostly due to reaction videos that showed people flinching and leaning in genuine fear.

Well, what happens when an Oculus Rift is used in conjunction with a live roller coaster? That’s the idea that Thomas Wagner, a German design professor, chose to bring to life. Having partnered with Mack Rides, Wagner created a few virtual scenarios that match the motions of a physical roller coaster.

One common complaint about the Oculus Rift is that it can cause motion sickness since the visuals imply movement while your body thinks it’s stationary. Matching the visuals with motion mitigates the sickness, making it a more palatable experience for those who are vulnerable to that.  The hybrid virtual-physical ride can also immerse the user in visuals and environments that would not be possible in the real world.

The technology is still in testing and development, but it may pave the way for a new kind of amusement park ride. Maybe the Oculus Rift could be combined with a self-driving car How Self-Driving Cars Will Change Transportation Forever How Self-Driving Cars Will Change Transportation Forever As we move into 2015, the question is no longer whether self-driving cars will replace manually driven cars, but how quickly they'll take over. Read More for a similar sort of experience? Who knows. The future is wide open at this point.

Retro Arcade Virtual Environment

The end game for the Oculus Rift is the ability to create complete virtual environment 5 Amazing Non-Gaming Ways People Are Using Oculus Rift 5 Amazing Non-Gaming Ways People Are Using Oculus Rift "It's just a gimmick." That's what people said about the Wiimote, the Kinect, and more recently Google Glass, and that's what they're saying about the Oculus Rift. If you're one of them, I implore you... Read More that we can truly inhabit together.  These worlds could take us to places that are long gone, or never existed in the first place. The idea isn’t a new one — Ernest Cline explored the notion of recreating old realities in his novel Ready Player One — but it remains a goal that we’re constantly pursuing.

And that’s why the New Retro Arcade is such a fascinating application of Oculus Rift technology. If you lament the disappearance of ’80s-era arcades, rest easy. Pretty soon you’ll be able to relive that experience without having to do anything more than wear a set of these goggles.

Everything about the recreated environment is beautiful and spot on: the tacky carpet, the black lights, the neon signs, and of course the cassette tape music. It really feels like you’ve been teleported back a few decades. Older folks can use the New Retro Arcade to reminisce while younger folks can experience a past they’ve never seen.

But it’s not just about passive enjoyment; it’s about interaction. You can switch tapes, play Gameboy games, and move from arcade machine to arcade machine all the while playing hit titles from the Golden Age of gaming like Tetris, Asteroids, and Missile Command.

It proves the viability of the Oculus Rift as a tool for virtual environments, not just virtual experiences, thus making the New Retro Arcade one of the best Oculus Rift demos 5 Best Demos to Show Oculus Rift Newbies 5 Best Demos to Show Oculus Rift Newbies Read More for naysayers of virtual reality.

Final Thoughts

The Oculus Rift hasn’t been released for the general market yet but a consumer version is slated to be released sometime in 2015. Before then, the only way to get first-hand experience with the device is with the development kit Everything You Want To Know About The Oculus Rift Dev-Kit Everything You Want To Know About The Oculus Rift Dev-Kit The future is here - the Oculus Rift has finally begun shipping. It's early days yet, but if you're one of the lucky few who backed or pre-ordered the dev kit, here's a collection of... Read More .

Are you impressed with the Oculus Rift yet? Which of these simulations is most exciting to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credit: Giuseppe Costantino / Shutterstock.com

  1. Kilgore
    November 1, 2016 at 10:29 am

    "Ernest Cline explored the notion of recreating old realities in his novel Ready Player One"

    And a decade before Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter depicted it in their novel "The Light of Other Days", although the main plot is not based on VR.

    I've been waiting some twenty-five years for VR to become mainstream, since the day I saw it as a teenager on TV in the begining of the nineties. The future is now...

  2. Oculus Grift
    January 14, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Virtual Reality is just a stupid fad like the pet rock or snowboarding. Just kidding. I seriously cannot wait for the Rift. Wow this stuff looks freakin amazing!

    • Joel Lee
      January 14, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      Ha, you almost had me with your first sentence. ;)

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