Have a look at this video of my sister going apeshit on the DK2 (second Oculus Rift development kit. I’ve been demoing the Oculus Rift to as many people, from as many backgrounds, in as many places as I could muster. It’s been a hoot to see how universal its appeal has been. ‘Awesome!....Wow!....That’s amazing….’. No matter what age, race, gender or background; people have been astonished by how quickly their brain took them into other worlds.
Resistance is futile
Once you flood their field of view with a screen that has a high refresh rate with rock solid tracking so that your head movements mimic what would happen in that world, along with great audio – you’re there. That new world is your new reality. Your old consciousness is replaced by a new one. This is far more than the suspension of disbelief you get, almost immediately, in the cinema. Here, it’s like wrapping the cinema around your whole head, then allowing you to look and move around inside the movie. The sense of ‘presence’, being there, is of a different order.
I’ve had freezers, smilers, grippers, swayers, screamers and plain, scary freak outs.
1. Freezers – stand stock-still, as if struck by the eyes of Medusa, usually men, often terrified
2. Smilers – they’re still but just smile, the steady smile of a person who has seen enlightenment
3. Grippers –they hold onto your hand/arm with a vice like grip, as if letting go would result in death
4. Swayers – sway all ways, like a cheap IKEA wardrobe, they are always on the verge of falling over
5. Screamers – yip, even in a crowded room, they let rip, sometimes out of fear, often just pure joy
6. Freak-outs – goners, they flip out, scream in one continuous loud note, fall over and go crazy
I’ve had Government Ministers, CEOs, CFOs, young, old, extroverts, introverts, men, women, rich and dirt poor. It’s all the same – they’re blown away. What’s been fascinating is the distribution of reaction against type of person. So what have I observed so far, from observing over 500 people?
Women have far stronger reactions than men
If we take the seven-point scale, so vividly described, I can certainly say that women are largely distributed towards the swayer, screamer and freak-out end of the spectrum.
Men tend to be freezers and smilers
Men, with a social role that says they shouldn’t show emotion, tend to fight the induced emotions.
No real difference between young and old
Surprisingly, there seems to be no difference between young children, children, teenagers, young adults, adults and senior citizens, even people in their eighties. Age does not seem to be a determinant of reaction.
Gamers get it, love it, want it
When gamers, usually youngish men, come out of the experience they really want to know when and where they can buy it and at what cost. Having spent a considerable amount of time being immersed in 2D games, they know exactly what this switch to 3D means.
After seeing so many people, so impressed by whet is still just demonstration technology, I’m convinced that this will be huge. The fact that huge players, such as Facebook, Sony and Microsoft have entered the fray, one with a $2 billion acquisition, it’s hard to see this not being a commercial success. It’s not a matter of failure only a matter of how great the success.