Rethinking 360o VR

Since our lab’s research focuses on full room scale VR, I have generally not paid much attention to 360o VR. After all, why settle for being stuck in one place when you have the option to roam around freely in virtual worlds?

But with the introduction of the Oculus Go, I am rethinking my position. This device functions so well as a consumer level product that it is prompting me to think of fun things we might do with it.

As long as 360o VR was in its “early adaptor” stage, focusing on devices that tried to make VR happen by leveraging your SmartPhone, it was never going to be a really satisfying experience. SmartPhones are designed primarily to be SmartPhones, not components of a VR experience.

In contrast, the Go is so inexpensive and user friendly that for the first time I can imagine millions of people using a VR device without needing to think at all about technology. A lot of people I know are buying them for their non-technologically oriented parents, and their parents are really enjoying using them.

So instead of thinking of the 360o VR as a poorer cousin to room scale VR, I am now thinking of it as a larger version of IMAX. Imagine, for example, watching a chalktalk lecture where the blackboard is all around you. In fact, we’re starting to focus on getting my Chalktalk program to work with the Go in just this way.

Imagine a million students all remotely attending a lecture that they can see taking place all around them in glorious high resolution. It could be a very exciting way to think about MOOCs.

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