|Me in my Oculus Rift: "Yes, honey, I am paying attention |
to you and not playing a game right now."
These conflicting emotions describe how I feel using my new Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset, a product recently launched by Facebook. It's an impressive piece of tech that clearly demonstrates the promise of the future, but the drawbacks of this first version are also easy to recognize. Both the strengths and the challenges of today's VR devices will impact consumer adoption, as well as the opportunities for marketers.
My feelings about my new Oculus Rift are identical to the ones I had with my Atari 1040ST in 1986 and Palm Treo 600 in 2003. The Atari was one of the first home PCs with a graphic user interface and its 320x200 color monitor displayed images that seemed wondrous at the time, but I couldn't help but be frustrated at its slow speed and the need to continually swap floppy disks when using software. Almost two decades later, my Treo encouraged the same feelings--the ability to respond to email, take (terrible) photos and access the Web were awesome, but the kludgy interface, size of the device and pokey responsiveness were constant reminders of the hardware and software improvements to come. Using the Oculus Rift provides me those same synchronous feelings of wonder and mild exasperation, and that fills me with high hopes for the future of VR.
By mentioning some of the limitations of today's VR hardware, I don't intend to discourage others from considering a purchase, but anyone who invests in the initial iteration of leading-edge tech must expect some bumps in the road. Consumers and marketers interested in VR should be aware of the strengths and challenges of today's tech and what is likely to occur in the future. I will first share some of my feelings as an Oculus Rift user and then convey some observations about what this all means for marketers.