After a comprehensive beta testing phase, home virtual reality system Oculus Rift was officially launched on 11 June, culminating years of anticipation for the new wearable technology.
Available to the public in the first few months of 2016, the device is primarily marketed to gamers, even coming with an Xbox One controller. Despite this target market, it is without a doubt that VR could be a game changer across the spectrum of media and the creative arts. Highlighted below the Oculus introduction video, are five way the technology can change the way creators can produce, and audiences can consume, music.
1. Live Music: With musical focus as much about visuals as about audio, video has become an important an aspect to the current landscape of music ingestion. What better way to engage audiences with artists (and, ultimately, streaming services like Tidal, who pride themselves on behind the scenes content) then with 360 degree VR experiences.
2. Make Music By Gesturing: Aside from the Xbox One controller, Oculus also ships with the exciting Oculus Touch, a pair of hand-held motion controllers, designed to create an extension of users hands within the VR environment. A sensor ring is able to track hand motions, giving immediate haptic feedback, allowing users to, essentially, make the hardware into a virtual MIDI controller. Oculus Rift already has an application for controlling Ableton Live, Pensato, comfortably demonstrating how the system can be used to create music.
3. 360 Degree Sound: Much like 4DSound and Envelop, aimed at creating multi-dimensional sound experiences, Oculus Rift’s headset is equipped with the ability to offer directional audio in a way regular headphones cannot.
4. Collaboration: As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (banking on Oculus Rift with a $2bn buyout of the company) views it as, “a new communication platform,” it should come as no surprise that, behind the scenes, a collaborative VR platform could be designed. Think of it as cloud collaboration 2.0, with the VR environment acting as creation space between artists in, say, London and New York City.
5. Music Videos: Perhaps the most exciting possibilities of Oculus Rift are what it can do for the medium of music video. As production trends shift from big budget extravagance to smaller, more artistically-driven, output, Oculus VR environment could create an interesting new platform for (music) video artists.