When people used to think of Virtual Reality, they would probably imagine wearing a giant helmet to transport themselves into some sort of digital world. VR has taken massive strides in the gaming world, with consoles like the Oculus Rift revolutionizing at-home gaming, creating fully immersive 360 degree worlds for our imaginations to explore. What most people don’t realize, is how life-like VR experiences can be, and surprisingly, how affordable.
This year for the 2016 Rio Olympics, NBC is providing Samsung Gear VR users over 100 hours of 360 degree footage. A first for any Olympics. The Samsung Gear VR, a collaborative effort by Oculus and Samsung, works as a pair of goggles to hold your Samsung device, and through a special app, users can access live Olympic events in VR. Amazingly, the device itself (only compatible with Samsung devices) costs around $100.
Photo Courtesy of Samsung
When it comes to VR, seeing is believing and I was fortunate to receive a sneak preview of NBC’s Olympic VR coverage at GeekWire’s Sports Tech Summit this past July. Believe me, once you experience VR with 360 HD video, every other digital media viewing experience pales in comparison. The picture was so clear, and so life-like, that at times my body was tricked by my brain into thinking I was actually dangling high above what I was watching. I had always thought that VR would be a superfluous luxury, but after spending a few minutes with the Samsung Gear VR, I was hooked. I now see it as the new frontier of at-home entertainment. It also has practical applications in the classroom, and can make training simulations all the more realistic.
Courtesy of VRCinematic
The Olympics this year are also experimenting with Super High Definition cameras and a fleet of drones to capture the action from every possible angle. NBC is also streaming more online content than any Olympics in history.
As VR technologies become more mainstream, they will only get more affordable. Imagine TV shows designed for VR, watching the Super Bowl from the 50-yard line, or creating your own 360 home videos so that you can relive life’s most important moments as if you are actually in the room again. All of these experiences are no longer far-fetched. No longer are they in the realm of imagination. They’re easily ordered online and available today.