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Virtual Reality: The Next Computing Platform (part 3 of 3)

Which do you think will be the next computing platform, and what will it look like?

We can safely assume that “there will be the next thing” in computing. Humans always want more. We don’t just accept things as they are. We are explorers and creators. We will not be content with mobile devices as the standard computing platform for communication. So what will be next?

We have already tried a few products that are an evolution to mobile devices. These include very large LED screens, but 2D screens are still in the same paradigm no matter how big they get. We have seen 3D TVS, those that we use glasses to have the experience with a blue lens on one eye and red on the other. This is an enhancement, but it’s not a new paradigm. And we’ve also had Google Glass, which turned out to be a flop. Perhaps Google Glass was too ahead of its time. Perhaps it wasn’t marketed properly. A $1,500 price tag on a device that was underpowered and under-delivered did not prove to be a good strategy.

Well, in 2012 a kickstarter campaign took place for a prototype VR Head-Mounted Display (HMD). The person who had the idea to pursue VR was Palmer Luckey, a teenager at the time who had a passion for games. Luckey decided to go on ebay and purchase all the VR headsets from the past that he could find – many of these he acquired for $100 when they used to cost $1,000. After some work in developing a new headset in his garage with crude tools such as hot glue and duct tape. Luckey was not only convinced that VR was ready for prime time thanks to the mobile revolution (which produced miracles in the miniaturization of necessary parts that could be used in a VR headset as well as reduced cost of same parts), and more importantly, he was able to convince some important industry figures such as John Carmack, who was the original programmer of games like 3D Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake. Carmack is a very influential and resourceful individual in the tech industry, and revered as a legend by many who witnessed the evolution of computer gaming thanks to Carmack’s genial contribution.

So a Kickstarter campaign went live for the Oculus DK1 in 2012, which had as a goal, besides raising funds for production of VR headsets, to validate VR as a medium that people want. The campaign aimed at raising 250 thousand dollars, and it ended with a total of almost 2.5 million dollars – that is over 10 times its original goal.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1523379957/oculus-rift-step-into-the-game

Clearly the demand for VR existed. This was a remarkable endeavor, but something even more amazing came out of this kickstarter campaign than anyone could have imagined: Facebook learned that a new VR prototype was being developed. Long story short, Oculus was acquired by Facebook in 2014, less than 2 years later.

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Another development that brought a promising new computing platform is the Microsoft HoloLens, which is considered an Augmented Reality device. HoloLens is different from VR in the sense it allows you to view 3-dimentional holograms in whatever physical space you’re in. More on this topic coming soon, and feel free to check out our VR and AR development courses being offered Code Fellows:
https://www.codefellows.org/courses/code-500

 

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