Virtual-reality goggles aren't just for gaming
The $300 goggles that Irvine, Calif.-based Oculus VR began shipping to software developers in March deliver a glimpse of a futuristic technology long awaited by video gamers. They allow a player to step inside a computer-created virtual world.
What might be most eye-opening, though, is how the Oculus Rift goggles are finding their way into non-gaming applications.
Architects in Michigan have found ways to visualize houses that haven't been constructed yet. A manufacturer in Indiana sees a way to save money by demonstrating its products without having to transport them across the country. NASA believes it could use virtual reality to let scientists, and the public, explore the landscape on the surface of Mars without setting foot in a spaceship.
The goggles are still a work in progress. In its current version, the Rift delivers a relatively low-resolution experience that doesn't yet track the full range of human motion. As a result, some people get motion sickness.
Oculus is using $16 million in venture capital it raised in June to hire virtual reality experts to solve those and other problems. One of their tasks is to get feedback from users of the more than 35,000 developer kits they've sold to date. Oculus is counting on those developers to write the software that puts people in other worlds once it becomes consumer-ready.
Jeff Norris is a computer scientist leading the Mission Operations Innovation Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., a lab focused on projects that can change the way humans interact with and control spacecraft.
“One of the things we're investigating is the use of immersive displays for looking at data returned from spacecraft. We're looking at virtual reality technology as a way for our scientists and engineers to better understand the environment around a spacecraft and then better control that spacecraft.
“But we're also looking at these technologies as a way to share the journey of these missions with the public. The fact that (inexpensive devices like the Rift) are becoming more accessible to a broader audience helps both those goals.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Operating loss widens at Highmark parent
- Anchor Hocking parent EveryWare files for Chapter 11
- Consol Energy files for IPO of coal spin-off
- Conventional gas, oil drillers seek rules differing from shale industry in Pennsylvania
- Internet gambling results ‘disappointing’ so far
- Home prices rise as supply still tight
- Stocks of Pittsburgh-area companies set record in March
- U.S. Steel considers temporary shutdown of Minn. plant
- 6-year stock market rally still going strong, bulls say
- Japan snubs China investment bank
- Pittsburgh region’s unemployment rate stays steady