If Facebook can pull off mass adoption of Oculus Rift, how will it change media and marketing? Mike McGee dares to dream.
By Mike McGee
Facebook is hoping to create 1bn users for its virtual reality (VR) acquisition, Oculus. Sounds overly ambitious doesn’t it? But not impossible. After all, Google managed this level of adoption for Android. So let’s assume for a moment that it’s feasible and ask ourselves how mass uptake of VR will affect media and marketing?
VR is most commonly associated with gaming, where the kinship is clear. Perhaps the most obvious media connection is with Hollywood, where VR has the potential to completely revolutionise the film industry. From giving every viewer an IMAX-worthy “best seat in the house” to letting people interact with a film’s narrative and pause to reveal character backstories, VR has the power to utterly disrupt the passive film viewing experience.
Much has been said about virtual reality taking viewers to different places, but a recent study takes on another dimension: time. Researchers from the University of Barcelona and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel put together a virtual reality experience that lets volunteers experience time travel.
According to their paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, it worked. Participants felt as if they had travelled back in time and—here's the kicker—that they could change the past. The paper explained that the illusion of time travel was successful, provided that subjects “also experienced an illusion of presence in the virtual environment, body ownership and agency over the virtual body that substituted their own.”
Virtual reality. When we hear these words, we may immediately think of computer or video games, while others may conjure up images of Neo from the 1999 sci-fi classic The Matrix.
And while it’s true that the origin of virtual reality (VR) and most of its uses have been rooted in gaming, thanks to technological advances and the buzz around Oculus VR—a company recently acquired by FaceBook due to its virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift—its potential is being realized in new industries.