"Gravity" is the Sandra Bullock, George Clooney movie that Google gave away in 2014. It's notable for being done almost completely using a computer generated environment and a simple but captivating story. Now imagine taking your 'phone out of your picket, popping on a set of Virtual Reality glasses and being transported to a fully immersive virtual place where your freely able to walk around and study material? And the first projects will likely be Hollywood behind the scenes of blockbusters, according to the Chief Executive Officer of cloud rendering company OTOY, but the technology could also be used so that we can star alongside Sandra in our own movie. The technology may be used to entertain, tell a story or educate participants and it's not ten years out but a few months away.
One of the most prominent uses is for places where visitors are not (usually) permitted to touch. Many of the ancient sites have a firm "look but do not touch" policy, because old relics or documents are too fragile for members of the public to handle. A virtual reality tour could be used to entertain and educate visitors in a way that audio commentary doesn't manage. OTOY also reckon that the technology can serve as a bigger digital distraction in classrooms to captivate the audience with whatever they are learning about, rather than making whatever they're otherwise carrying a potentially more significant distraction.
Some of the work behind this technology concentrates on utilizing cloud based technologies to bring superb quality video to even relatively low powered smartphones. OTOY's immediate objective is to create a device that, in effect, may be strapped to somebody's head to move with them. It needs to track the wearers' eyes and head as he or she moves wearing it. Their technology is a video format that is streamed from their servers that allows the sort of realistic, interactive experience that games designers and entertainment managers have dreamed of. However, this streaming video format is not simply a pipe dream because OTOY have stated that Google, Samsung and Facebook are delivering later this year. They've also confirmed that thye're working with three Hollywood studios to bring interactive and realistic scenes from movies to the service and also have plans to enable this content for customers buying the DVD, Blu-Ray or online video.
This is exciting stuff; Hollywood have been making movies about this for most of my life, after the initial idea of virtual reality headsets. It may have taken thirty years for the technology to catch up, but now it looks like it's right around the corner. I wonder if Sandra Bullock likes cheesecake?