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10 mind-blowing Oculus Rift experiments that reveal VR's practical potential

Ian Paul | Nov. 26, 2014
The inspiration for the Oculus Rift may have been gaming, but these experiments show how the consumer-grade virtual reality headset could transform more than just your World of Warcraft experience.

"I have no question that Oculus will revolutionize virtual reality for clinical purposes," Rizzo told The Verge in 2013.


Ever wondered what it would be like to experience life as a member of the opposite sex? An interdisciplinary group at the University of Pompeu in Barcelona tried to do just that.

The research project called The Machine To Be Another used a set-up where a man and a woman each wear an Oculus Rift headset as well as a camera strategically placed to capture a first-person view.

Each first-person view would go to the opposite person's Rift headset. So the man looks down and sees the woman's body and vice versa. The two users synchronize their actions so that it feels like they're actually living in the other person's body.

"Deep inside you know it's not your body, but you feel like it is," Philippe Bertrand, a Digital Arts student and co-founder of the group told Wired in February.

Rift Architecture

Architects may soon be using the Rift as a kind of sanity check on their designs. McBride Design teamed up with IrisVR to create a platform called Rift Architecture, according to The idea is to let architects create their building plans, upload them into the Oculus Rift-based platform and then walk through the building or landscape and experience their designs before pouring a single slab of concrete.

Third-person IRL

A team from, a Polish language technology educational site, recently took a popular concept from video games and applied it to real life with the Third-Person Perspective Augmented Experience.

First, you slap on a backpack containing a PC, an Arduino board, and a set of cameras suspended on a pole that reaches several feet above you. Then, wearing the Rift headset, you just walk around. Instead of seeing what's in front of you, you're fed images from the cameras, giving a bird's eye view of your surroundings similar to the third-person view used in video games like Tomb Raider or World of Warcraft.

The experimental project was put together in only a few days and the software couldn't automatically move the third-person cameras based on head movements. Instead, the group used a small hand-held controller to look in different directions.

The project was an entry in Intel's recent Make It Wearable Challenge. The project, while interesting, was not a finalist.

VR cinema

Since the Oculus Rift was originally conceived of as an entertainment device, the headset is right at home with movies and films. There are several Rift apps that let you watch a movie as if you're actually sitting in a movie theater. Netflix engineers have played with the Rift, and the VR headset was also used as a promotional tool for the new movie Interstellar.


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