April 4, 2014
First there was WoW, then there was Second Life, now there’s Oculus. Exploratory worlds can be a place of escape, but also a place of great inspiration. When Linden Lab created the platform for Second Life, it was exactly that, a platform on which to build - this is a great study of where a passionate audience can take a platform. Literally building out this virtual world brick by brick, the documentary Life 2.0 takes you inside this world in which many people live many hours of their real lives.
I’ve been fascinated about imaginative places and dreams since I was a young girl. When a particularly exciting dream would stick with me, I would draw it out using my impressive box of 64 Crayolas. Today, one of my obsessions is the SHADOW project imagined by Hunter Lee Soik - amongst my favorite kickstarters yet. The app currently in development will slowly awake a user and allow them to journal their dreams and share with a community of others. This idea of cataloging what can be a forgettable mind state is a step towards connecting our unconscious minds with our conscious selves.
Artists are exploring this very notion as well. My sister, Lia Chavez, an internationally exhibited artist, has explored visions discovered while in a deep meditative state through her performance artseries, Luminous Objects.
Visual as the Medium
Through the evolution of technology, gaming and interactivity, we’ve matured from initially web-based platforms, to now mobile - and visual will be the next medium which developers and dreamers alike will build upon.
During Facebook’s shareholders meeting post-announcement of acquiring Oculus Rift, Mark Zuckerberg said three key points that stuck with me.
“Today social is about sharing moments. Tomorrow, it will be about sharing experiences.”
“Visual will be the next big computing platform”
“New platforms roll in every 10-15 yrs, now it’s mobile but augmented vision is next”
Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR said “We’re teaming up with Facebook to invent the future.”
In today’s DeanBeat, Dean Takahashi wrote an insightful piece on what the acquisition means for platform advancement:
“The Facebook-Oculus combination will accelerate the consumer deployment of virtual reality, but it is not the be-all and end-all for VR. I’m convinced that this sector will be both wide and deep, extending well beyond gaming. While Facebook is hiring a lot of the virtual reality talent — like a trio of experts from game maker and digital distribution king Valve — the industry is becoming a movement that stretches beyond more than just one company.”
So Let’s Dream a Little
There are many opinions about what a platform like Oculus could evolve into, as a fan and dreamer, I’ve imagined a few scenarios…
Enabling Time Travel
Imagine revisiting your childhood home using Google street view and having a media catalog that you could attach to the experience to pull in family videos and photographs - flipping through a digital album in the foreground. Or re-live a special moment in time (reunions, birthdays, wedding day, graduations, celebrations), tools like Oculus will not only help share experiences, but re-live them - even more-so when solo-lens capture tools are used (e.g. head-mounted and low-profile devices such as SoloShot, Go Pro, Google Glass, Narrative).
Driving Education & Connection
Augmented reality as an educational tool could be used to virtually teleport users to other places in the world. Similar to the power of reach that online education communities like Skillshare have, Oculus will inspire a community of teachers. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of wildlife and space travel documentaries. Imagine feeling as though you’re standing in the grasslands of Africa, with exquisite wildlife all around you. Animal sanctuaries could help drive awareness and education. Agriculturists and community activists could share their passions and purpose. Imagine NASA collaborates with a Planetarium to develop films that place you in the seat of an astronaut. How rad would that be?!
Commerce in the Home
Thanks to digital, the disruption of retail over the last five years has challenged brands to step up their game. Interactive tools like Oculus could fundamentally re-imagine everything from the shopping process to market week trade shows. And of course, to take a note out of Cher’s enviable closet from Clueless, imagine shopping aggregators such as ShopStyle, Google Shopping and Polyvoreintegrating into Oculus, so select pieces from your favorite designers or brand could be tried on - an updated take on the paper doll.
Designing the Unseen
For architects, urban planners, and landscape and interior designers, imagine virtually walking through your floorplan or urban environment - virtually concepting design directions as though you’re in a showroom selecting swatches and planning out the space. Google Maps is in process of mapping interiors of select buildings - by hacking into that API you could tour other famous buildings by greatsCalatrava, Gehry and Foster to gain inspiration for designing your space.
Inspiring Content Creators
Take creative communities such as Vimeo, VHX.tv and Youtube to the next level with first-person point-of-view filming. See what musicians are up to backstage, get to know upcoming artists through creative series like Samantha Katz’s Gallery Glass - which used Google Glass to have a first person point-of-view of touring an artist’ gallery and process or explore a designers studio and browse a collection before it launches on the runway. The possibilities are endless.
Trying Something New
As a life-long skier and Coloradoan, I miss the slopes and don’t get in as much powder time as I would like living in New York. Imagine an immersive pod that serves up weather conditions similar to your favorite adventure sport location. Pop on Oculus, enter the pod, and get a rush of cold air to further dive you into the experience of flying down a double-diamond on the best powder day of the season. Skydive (and underwater) lovers could experience diving around the world and seeing the earth from above while feeling like a bird - a feeling I highly recommend everyone experience at least once in their lifetime.
Those weary of “this technology age” may be turned off by yet another device that seemingly detaches us from real-life. But I argue that by expanding our individual worlds through technology, it actually unites us more than divides. I believe creating new possibilities of interacting with the world around us will inspire great innovations, young and old.