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Oculus Rift, a Steam Engine for the modern age.


I walk around these days and feel like I have a secret to share with the people I pass on the street. At my workstation at home an Oculus Rift dev kit sits, and increasingly, I feel a bit odd about the owning the device. I imagine myself as a man born at the turn of the 17th century who just happens to have a working steam engine in his home. Something few people have heard about, far less have seen and none yet fully appreciate for the change it is about to bring to the world.

"One of the most important technologies in the history of man kind."

Palmer Luckey is widely quoted for his recent Dice talk and the moment towards the end where he exclaimed that the Oculus Rift / VR was "one of the most important technologies in the history of man kind." Depending on who you talk to, he's either grossly naive or a visionary. I've wondered about those words since his talk and I'd entourage you to dig up the video once Dice is kind enough to put it online. It's important to watch the video, because I feel his body language is important. Approaching the end of his talk, he pauses a moment then gathers himself up and makes this proclamation. While I can't claim to know what he was thinking, I imagine he's feeling a bit like a 17th century man himself, standing in a town square, pointing an early steam engine and screaming at the agrarian society around him: "Do you see!? This, this here, will change everything!"

We don't see it yet. We can't yet. We can't imagine the vast cities that will rise or how far this engine will enable us to travel, but we can start to look around and see some of the early signs of what's to come.

I've recently had the good fortune to be in touch with a seemingly great bunch of Japanese guys in Tokyo. Rift and hardware enthusiasts all. They are part of a very avid and growing community of Rift developers in Japan and are working together with the drive and love for technology that all Japanese (God love them) seem to be born with.

Language is a problem, but it is amazing how far you can get with Google Translate churning away on your incoming net traffic.

"If there's a group that will end up grafting motion tracking chips into their hands, my money is on these guys to do it first."

@GOROman is rumoured to own 20 Oculus dev kits and wanders the streets of Tokyo wearing a custom painted white Rift. I don't know him well yet, but he's high on my radar in terms of "very interesting people to keep a close eye on". These guys are are rapidly hacking together tech at a fantastic pace and founding new companies to distribute their inventions. If there's a group that will end up grafting motion tracking chips into their bodies, my money is on these guys to do it first.

I will meet them and soon.

I've been thinking that I'd really like to meet up with them the next time I get to Japan. I want to share in their inventions, meet the personalities and listen to what they have to say. I have the good fortune of regularly traveling to Japan every 4 years or so, but given how fast things are moving, I was fretting that it might be too long to wait.... and then it hit me. Hard.

I will meet them and soon.

VR will soon give us a common space to meet face to face, I know they will be in there, I just need to seek them out (and hope they'll be willing to set aside some time to humor me.)

Oculus Rift / VR will make this possible for me and better still, Google Translate or an equivalent service will be quietly running in the background during this meeting and helping me along in the conversation.

More thoughts on this tomorrow!

If anyone wants to say hi, I can been reached on Twitter at @ID_R_McGregor, or you link to me in Google+ if you happen to be one of the 300 million people using the service. Or you could leave a message below. You could just leave one word like "first", that way everyone will know that you were first, on this post... forever.

Note: @Gamesonytablet has translated this article to Japanese and posted it here. This is wonderful, thank you very much!

- by Robert McGregor, February 2014