«It’s just a trick.» Here’s what people have been saying about the Wiimote, Kinect, and most recently Google Glass — and that’s what they’re saying about the Oculus Rift. If you are one of them, I beg you to reconsider because the Rift already changes the world.

Although the device is of great importance for the gaming industry, its potential extends far beyond gaming. Oculus Rift offers unprecedented levels of simulation that can be useful in almost every major industry. It might even turn out to be more revolutionary than a smartphone.

For remote interaction

The magic of the Oculus Rift — and virtual reality in general — is how it gives us the ability to be present in another world. This concept can be taken and augmented by the global interconnectedness of the 21st century to provide some amazing experiences. In a sense, the Oculus Rift can be used to projecting yourself to places that might otherwise be inaccessible.

Virtual tourism. When Google Street View debuted in 2007, it took everyone by surprise. It was the natural next step after satellite map technology, and the Oculus Rift will take that evolution one step further. Instead of just browsing the streets, imagine virtual recreations of entire terrestrial locations. Imagine being able to explore these places in real time down to the smallest detail.

This is great news for those who are physically unable to travel (due to physical injuries, for example) or are limited by the financial cost of travel. It can also allow us to explore places in the world that are inherently dangerous (such as remote jungle areas) or inaccessible (such as mountain ranges or underwater caves).

Patient care. For disabled or unstable patients, it can be a real pain to keep coming back to doctors and therapists. At first, the Oculus Rift could provide doctors and patients with the ability to meet regularly for sessions, but as technology advanced, it could even provide for remote examinations.

For education


Audiences. While online courses nothing new, they still have a long way to go before they are considered equal to the living classes. Oculus Rift could be the key to creating a «better» environment for remote learners. Combined with the aforementioned virtual tourism, classrooms can make high-tech field trips abroad at a fraction of the cost.

Creative research. The Rift opens up dozens of new ways for kids to explore creative education. Educational Minecraft is a viable learning tool currently used in over 40 countries. How much better would this experience be if children were equipped with these devices and allowed to explore them for real?

Special training. The split has also proven to be an effective tool in situations involving the special needs of children or children with social anxiety:

“In the case of the Oculus Rift, there is a higher level of presence or telepresence in the psychological experience of the environment, which is beneficial for learning because it forces people to pay attention and direct attention in a more conscious way.

You can use the mechanics in this world to get the attention that leads to learning.”

Rabindra Ratan, professor

For training and simulation

The animation aspect of the Oculus Rift can be used as a learning tool. This is one of the more obvious non-gaming applications for the device, mainly because non-VR simulations already exist in many areas, but quality simulation is important here.

The medicine. Current models of surgery are actually quite complex already; in fact, they’re so complex that you don’t really need a device like the Oculus Rift. However, the Rift’s price tag (~$350) is extremely attractive, especially as a tool to show surgical students the prospect of unfinished surgery.

As for the Oculus demos, surgery is not a particularly advanced area of ​​virtual reality. Basically, it’s just a widescreen video playing in front of you, with the ability to lean in to get a closer look at the action.

But compared to just watching video on a computer screen, Oculus video is probably better at blocking out distractions. In addition, it shows exactly what the operating surgeon saw during actual procedures.

HT: PC World

For mental therapy

Anxiety. Exposure therapy can be helpful for patients who suffer from crippling anxiety or phobias, but this type of therapy is not always practical or safe. However, some therapists are working with the Oculus Rift to improve these techniques:

“Anxiety disorders and phobias are a real problem that affects one in 60 people in the US. Research has proven that virtual reality therapy can be as effective as in vivo exposure—for example, exposure to real heights—or imaginary exposure.

The person must not be exposed to an actual stressor that would normally be an obstacle to initiating treatment; a person can immediately get out of a situation if it becomes unbearable, and the environment and conditions can be structured and adapted to each case.

Until now, the cost of the hardware to enable these types of treatments has been prohibitive outside of an academic or well-funded environment. With the advent of the Oculus Rift, this barrier will be completely erased, opening the door for independent professionals, mental health organizations, and institutions that were previously unable to use this technology.”

Fernando Tarnogol, psychologist

Military. Here is another soldier app that touches on an issue that has been a hot topic in the last decade: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) . Treatment involves a complex mixture of counseling and therapy, but the Oculus Rift has proven to be helpful in speeding up the recovery process.

With the Rift, virtual reality can be used to reconstruct traumatic events in a controlled environment to help patients confront and overcome their symptoms.

For architecture and modeling

While the exploration of fantasy environments is an obvious selling point for the Oculus Rift, some use the device to explore environments before they are created in the real world.

Architecture. There are many resources involved in designing and prototyping buildings, but Oculus Rift allows architects to create and explore their creations in a virtual environment without any physical resources. It turns out that this can be very convenient.

Modeling. Virtual sculpting is another way the Rift provides an opportunity for creative exploration. As the video above shows, the virtual environment allows for a unique approach to 3D modeling that has implications for digital art (although it probably won’t catch on until accuracy and workflow are improved).

To take it one step further, the resulting models can be used in conjunction with 3D printers. to turn virtual sculptures into real sculptures.

For an impossible experience

If nothing else, the Oculus Rift might just work as an extended visual environment. Imagine what events are currently being televised or projected onto screens: sports, graduations, award ceremonies, security footage, etc.

Instead of watching a flat image of a football match, what if you could watch the action from the sidelines from the comfort of your home? How about a front row perspective of a concert or an awards ceremony? In fact, experience any event in real time can be upgraded by watching it through the Rift.

Or how about live streaming: you team up with a member of the opposite sex, both wearing Oculus Rift headphones, and each exploring the other’s point of view? It’s the idea of ​​a gender swap experiment, and it’s certainly an interesting take on virtual reality. Watch the video above to see what it’s all about.

Do you still think the Oculus Rift is just a gimmick? Or do you think there are even cooler ideas that we have yet to discover? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Image Credit: Industrial Workers via Shutterstock, Woman Wearing an Oculus Rift via Shutterstock

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