It is Christmas 1941. A 12-year-old boy is opening his gifts eagerly. As he peers into a maroon box with white paper, he sees exactly what he is after — a View Master Model A with three image reels. He excitedly removes the View Master from the box, slides in the first reel, and peers through the viewports. Instantly, he is transported to the Rocky Mountains, to Crater Lake and then to the Grand Canyon. There is a sense of amazement and wonder in his reaction — not even the best book could transport him to another place with such 3-D realism.
That was nearly 75 years ago, and it was just an inaugural glimpse into the field of Virtual Reality (VR).
Late in September 2015, more than 1,500 VR industry leaders and developers filled the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles for the second annual Oculus Connect keynote. Oculus is a leading VR company that is “revolutionizing the way people play video games.” Plenty of things have changed since 1941, but the sense of amazement and wonder for virtual reality only has increased.
After making some announcements, including the launch of a VR shooter from game company Unreal titled Bullet Train, a collaboration with Netflix, and a new 3-D artistic tool — Medium — Oculus revealed they have 130,000 registered developers, 700,000 downloads from their Oculus Share service, and 40,000 live viewers on the Twitch livestream for the conference keynote alone. It’s clear that VR is garnering a huge amount of development interest across multiple industries, including video streaming, gaming and simulated learning.