We take a look at some alternative uses for the VR headset

Oculus Rift headset: An alternative hands-on

Anyone who’s vaguely interested in the world of gaming will have already heard a fair amount about the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Starting off life as a Kickstarter campaign in August 2012, the headset reached its target of $250,000 (£160,200) within four hours, and with support from some of the PC games industry’s leading figures, such as Doom creator John Carmack, Valve’s Gabe Newell and Epic Games’ design director Cliff Bleszinski, it’s safe to say there’s a pretty big buzz around the Oculus Rift.

Back in July 2013, Oculus Rift CEO Brendan Iribe revealed that he hopes for the headset to one day become free at point of purchase – causing many, many gamers to collectively wet their pants. But as PCR has discovered at London’s innovative photography and video studio Visualise, it may not be gaming that sees the Oculus Rift become a household name.

Perhaps best known for its ‘gigapixel’ Olympics images, Visualise is working with Oculus Rift headsets to further enhance interactive tours and live streamed content.

With a 360-degree image taken from the top of the London Eye, PCR was able use the headset to explore the city’s famous landmarks, zooming into the insides of the skyline’s most iconic buildings and taking an incredibly-close-up look at a komodo dragon at London Zoo.

The headset itself was surprisingly lightweight. For something that looks quite bulky, its cushioned insides make it easy to forget you’re wearing it at all.

The headset comes with a number of lenses, so those who wear glasses can pick long or short-sighted ones and fit them into the device. More room for glasses wearers would be nice, but this method seems to be one that helps keep the headset so lightweight, which will be beneficial during long sessions.

It’s not just virtual tours that Visualise has planned. “We’re experimenting with linking up to live feeds,” the studio’s co-founder and MD, Henry Stuart, told PCR.

The idea is that people could eventually use the headset while watching live concert streams or even sport events. Another idea is to incorporate the headset in arcade style booths at places like shopping malls. “These combine the Oculus Rift with a Kinect sensor, so movement is also detected,” explained Stuart.

With companies like Visualise exploring a number of different possibilities for the Oculus Rift, the idea of eventually seeing the headset in public places and not just gamers’ bedrooms could easily become a reality. 

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