Facebook-owned Oculus is working on a so-called immersive theater, a new form of entertainment that will allow virtual reality headset wearers to interact with live actors.
Oculus has not provided specific details about the format, but the company is targeting its release sometime in 2019.
Oculus Immersive Theater: What Will It Be Like?
Oculus executive producer Yelena Rachitsky, in an interview with CNET, described the immersive theater as a combination of the popular indie video game Journey and the theatrical play Sleep No More.
In Journey, players meet other players in a vast desert, but interactions and communication between them are limited. Meanwhile, in Sleep No More, audience members are allowed to explore and follow live actors through a set that spans three warehouses.
For Oculus' immersive theater, the members of the audience, which may come from various parts of the world, will enter a virtual world through headsets such as the Oculus Rift. The viewers will see the other viewers and the characters that will be played by live actors in a motion capture stage. The cast of the immersive theater will then provide an interactive performance "that's never exactly the same story twice."
Oculus is hoping that the new form of virtual reality entertainment will encourage more consumers, developers, and artists to make investments in the technology. Oculus' immersive theater will give viewers an experience that only live human actors are capable of providing but with the freedom of access provided by virtual reality.
The immersive theater that Oculus is working on will not be looking to replace live theater but may enable plays that are impractical or impossible in real life. The experience will sit somewhere between watching a movie and playing a full-body virtual reality games.
Virtual Reality Moves Forward
Companies such as Oculus are moving forward with creating more virtual reality applications, as the technology further develops. HTC, for example, recently released the $1,399 Vive Pro 2.0 Kit, targeting corporations that may want to use virtual reality to train their employees.
Meanwhile, breakthroughs are also happening on the hardware side of virtual reality. According to a recent report, Apple is also working on its entry into the industry with a headset that combines virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. The Apple AR/VR headset will feature 8K displays for each eye, no wires, and a custom Apple processor, with an expected release date in 2020.
These are certainly exciting times for the virtual reality industry, and innovations from companies such as Oculus will do nothing but move the technology forward into the future.