Virtual Reality

Beyond Gaming: Oculus Rift Founder's Predictions for Virtual Reality's Future

The virtual reality industry could disrupt a number of industries beyond gaming, according to Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey.

Earlier this year, Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion. But despite the astronomical price tag, Oculus is still young, and to date is only taking preorders for its consumer headset, called the Oculus Rift.

While the technology still has a long way to go, Luckey said he sees companies like Oculus VR making devices for many different industries. Currently, Oculus VR has found its biggest following among gamers, which Luckey said is due to the number of talented developers working in the gaming world.

“The talent does exist in other industries, but not at the mass scale it does in the video game industry,” he said.

Looking beyond gaming, Luckey gave a number of predictions for the future of virtual reality at the Forbes Under 30 Summit earlier this week:

No. 1: Medicine

Luckey said virtual reality headsets could hypothetically be used to help teach doctors.

“If a med student wants to learn about a particular surgery … [he could] pause it, zoom in, zoom out, rewind,” Luckey said.

By viewing medical procedures and surgeries with a virtual reality headset such as the Oculus Rift, Luckey said medical students could have a lot more control over the viewing experience. Additionally, hundreds of students could view the same surgery – an impossibility given the physical constraints of most operating rooms. (Luckey was quick to point out, however, that the Rift is not a medical device and has not been approved by the FDA.)

No. 2: Architecture

Luckey said architects and designers could use virtual reality headsets to help create and navigate a space before building it.

“You can make changes before you start moving real, physical atoms around,” Luckey said.

No. 3: Education

“We’ve always seen value in sending kids on field trips,” Luckey said. On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., Luckey said he was struck by the access that kids in the nation’s capital have to the Smithsonian.

However, Luckey said that the opportunity to explore museums and historical sites is often limited by geographical location and socioeconomic status.  Virtual reality devices could potentially “enable people to experience things in a way that most people across the company could not realistically do,” said Luckey.

No. 4: Business Meetings

Business travel doesn’t rank high on Luckey’s list of favorite things – and he believes that devices like the Oculus Rift could eventually render them unnecessary.

“It would be really interesting if virtual reality replaced part or all of that travel and let people have the same level of human nuance without wasting all that resources and time,” Luckey said.


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