In a long-awaited move, VR trailblazers Oculus have announced a professional Rift bundle created with business needs in mind.
OC4, the company’s fourth Oculus Connect event held last week in San Jose, California, saw 2,900 engineers, designers and creatives from around the world converge to map out the future of virtual reality (VR) and get hands-on with the latest products.
Alongside the standalone Oculus Go, we finally saw the introduction of a VR solution from the Facebook-owned company targeted specifically at business users.
The last 18 months have seen Rift aimed primarily at the consumer market, with Oculus investing heavily in content creators and releasing support for Touch motion controllers and room-scale tracking – but this strategy has now been broadened.
The Oculus Rift Business Bundle contains a Rift headset, touch controllers, three sensors, and three facial interfaces. The solution also includes dedicated customer support and extended licenses and warranties to reflect the level the service demanded by business applications.
Extending VR’s reach
By branching into this new area, Oculus is serving an overarching need to spread the virtues and potential of a platform that is essentially still in its infancy. If VR is to play a long-term and significant role in our everyday lives, it must impact the workplace – helping users to collaborate, create and learn at scale.
While VR is largely still seen as the domain of the tech enthusiast at home, a broad range of businesses stand to benefit from the Rift to boost productivity, aid training and help customers to visualize products before they buy. Industries such as tourism, education, health, construction and manufacturing are just a few sectors that come to mind.
I had the chance to experience one such application first-hand recently (albeit not on a Rift). It allowed the user to visualise an architect’s 3D render of an office design – thereby bridging the common communication gap between a designer’s vision and the customer’s ability to comprehend the end product.
Audi now uses the Oculus Rift in hundreds of dealerships worldwide, allowing customers to choose from thousands of configuration options to build their dream car and immerse themselves in their creation.
Meanwhile, DHL Express has worked with its partner Immerse to drive its training programmes using Rift. Employees all over the world can follow a consistent learning experience in a safe and cost-effective environment.
Many of us have struggled with the obstacles presented by long-range business communication. Cisco’s Spark app provides a virtual space for collaboration. Teams can present PDFs, interact with 3D models, and draw on a virtual board that is synced with its physical counterpart.
It’s worth noting that VR competitor HTC introduced it’s $1,200 Vive Business Edition in June 2016 – so Oculus has been conspicuous in its absence from the market, until now. However, the Rift Business Bundle is significantly cheaper at $900.
It’s still early days for VR’s place in business, but there is huge scope for using it to enhance productivity and aid communication. The incoming Rift Core 2.0 software update is set to overhaul the user experience, adding UI and customisation enhancements. As the ecosystem evolves, we’ll surely see adoption grow with it.