Army Experiments and Big Ambitions for Oculus
Virtual Reality is hardly new to the military. Various VR technology has been in use for years, helping train soldiers with different simulations. But apparently, the Norwegian army intends to take it one step further.
According to an article in the Norwegian web magazine Teknisk Ukeblad, the army's Battle Lab branch has been working with a civilian company called Making View, attaching four cameras to an APC, hooking it up with a computer inside the vehicle where the driver's modified Oculus Rift devkit is also connected to. The article also has a video, but it's not subtitled, so you'll just have to make do with the footage.
In addition to giving the driver of the otherwise cumbersome APC the ability to see 360 degrees around the vehicle without the help of the vehicle's commander, some augmented reality elements are also being worked on. This will allow the driver to see a compass and overhead map on the HUD. Even going so far as giving the driver the ability to see marked friendly troops and weapons on the battlefield and enemy minefields similar to the spotting system in games like Battlefield 4.
Though Facebook's acquisition of Oculus initially caused furore amongst gamers around the world, that hasn't stopped the recently revealed Devkit II from selling hot. According to TechCrunch.com, the new and improved devkit has sold over 25,000 units in a single month. Major Ola Petter Odden at Battle Lab is also positive to the acquisition.
"They now have the financial support needed to take this further. We are also starting to see more competing products emerge, which will help us find the best goggles."
Odden expects to have the system combat-ready in about five years.
Oculus CEO Palmer Luckey was at PAX East this past weekend, and he had some pretty bold claims about his VR project. According to him, there is "no way" that traditional TVs will still have a place on the market in 10-20 years.
"A large TV is expensive because it's literally just a lot of plastic and a lot of glass in a big box that has to be shipped across the world - that sometimes breaks - that has to sit on a giant store shelf until someone buys it."
It is his idea that the Rift, being smaller and thus cheaper to ship across the world, will be able to offer a greater field of view than a traditional TV monitor for a fraction of the price.
I get where you're coming from, Luckey, and you may be right in that the traditional big-screen TVs will eventually be replaced by other forms of technology, but I think you're being overly optimistic here. It's the "flying cars" argument all over again. Weren't we talking about that back in the 1970s already?
Anyway, we've embedded the interview for you below. What do you think? Is the Oculus really going to revolutionize the entertainment industries to such a degree? Ten years is a long time in the ever-evolving technological world of today, but will people be willing to trash the TVs that have been a household product for over half a century by now?