The Oculus Rift is an incredible device that’s captured the imaginations of many even before its release. It’s allowed us to sit inside star fighters, dodge bullets in the first person, and even slay dragons in three dimensions. But when Facebook bought Oculus, we all knew in the back of our minds it wasn’t just for its gaming potential.
While many assumed we would see virtual reality being used for new ways to navigate social media like Instagram, Facebook (obviously), and Twitter, there are many more real world uses for the technology. An unexpected use has been revealed by ATTA, the African Tourism and Travel Association. In order to promote holiday tourism in South Africa, the organization South African Tourism (SAT) will use the Oculus Rift to give people in the UK a five minute South African experience to persuade them to visit the genuine article.
Five minutes in Virtual South Africa? Doing what?
A lot, it seems. The demo consists of repelling down Table Mountain in Cape Town, kite surfing, para-gliding, feeding elephants, and even shark cage diving.
Wait, we do all of that in five minutes?
It’s unclear. You may be able to choose from one or two, but it’s more likely that it will be a virtual montage of sorts.
I seem to remember a shark cage demo for the Oculus.
Yes. It’s been shown around industry shows and it’s supposedly terrifying. SAT’s footage may be even more terrifying, as it is actually real, shot with a special 3D printed camera rig. All the footage will also have something called binaural sound to enhance the experience
Indeed. If the Oculus Rift is the ultimate 3D visual experience, think of binaural sound as the audio equivalent that goes along with it. The technique involves recording something with two microphones in order to create a sense of three dimensional sound using a pair of headphones.
So they’re trying to find new ways to terrify me.
Well, it’s safe to assume they believe there are people interested in shark cage diving (presumably ones who haven’t seen Jaws yet).
When and where can I experience this taste of South Africa?
According to ATTA, the the first chance to try the demo will be at Corbet Place, Brick Lane, London on the 24th of April and then NoHo in Manchester. SAT will announce further dates on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. There is no word yet if the demo will come to the US.
What does this mean for the future of VR?
It means it may have many more real world uses than simply gaming. SAT is using VR to essentially replace the time honored brochure. If VR can use used to replace something so small, imagine what could be next.
But for now, it’s a pretty safe bet we’re all just really excited for EVE Valkyrie.