Earlier this week we sent our resident geek, Dave C., to do some reconnaissance at the Museum of the Moving Image. They're currently hosting an exhibition on new and experimental storytelling technologies, called Sensory Stories, and the centerpiece is the much-hyped Oculus Rift.
While it was hardly our first encounter with the Rift, the exhibit at MoMI had several different software experiences queued up, and they presented a great overview of the potential of this new generation of virtual reality devices. There were interactive games, but also a remarkably immersive 360º tour of a refugee camp in Jordan - Clouds Over Sidra - produced by the United Nations, and some disconcertingly realistic 3D-rendered experiences that explored the illusions of proximity and distance that the device can create.
Everything we saw implied that virtual reality is ready for primetime - not just as a gaming device or novelty, but as a new way to consume all kinds of media, from telepresence to documentary film. And the most important part of the equation may just be price; Oculus recently announced that when the final version of the Rift arrives for purchase early next year, the entire system necessary to experience VR - including a computer to run the software - will cost about $1500. At that price point, we think VR-based entertainment might finally be more than an illusion.
Sensory Stories will run at the Museum of the Moving Image through July 26, 2015