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Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Enter Virtual Reality With Oculus Rift

So… less than a week ago I wrote a blog about Japan's use of virtual reality equipment (HERE)—the Oculus Rift manufactured by US company Oculus VR, Inc.—and with VR Japan adding a twist to it by creating a software program and robotic arm device that will enable the user to feel as thigh they are being masturbated by a female (or male) anime character.

Hey… whatever yanks your crank, right?

Well… as luck would have it, a mere two days later I got to see and TRY the Oculus Rift myself at a packaging trade show in Toronto.

Brought by mechanical designer Brad Zalischuk (that's him to the right in the top photo) of ProVantage Automation of Ancaster, Ont. - this was effing amazing.

All I had on was:
  • the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset;
  • the Razer Hydra Left motion control strapped over my shoulder;
  • the motion controller (made by Razer Hydra - although they have stopped manufacturing these, Oculus VR has plans to release controller devices of their own - but nothing out yet!~) in my right hand.
First off… there was no masturbation involved…

This was, pure and simple, a chance for me to enter a virtual reality world - in this case, a production facility that housed both a forklift and a carton erector machine with conveyance system.

Yes… I used the word 'erector'. Stop tittering.

Strapped in - standing - I was instructed to stay in place, but I could move my virtual reality view both backwards and forwards and side to side by use of a control wand. Thanks to the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, I could look up and down and side to side.

I could move within the virtual reality warehouse, which was in color, but still presenting an animated appearance… but… when I moved via the wand and then came to a stop, my entire body rocked back and forth - swaying at both the waist and knees, as though I actually had my movement cut short.

Looking up, I could see some of the intricacies of the carton erector… or the control panel on the forklift… looking down, I could examine how the conveyor belt was joined together to offer a smooth movement.

Brad says that this virtual reality method could be used as a safe an inexpensive way to train operators how to use machinery - it's true... you don't want some dumb rookie like me trying to run a tens of thousand dollar machine and then lose an arm in the process...

If you are wondering how expensive this technology is - let me just say that with a cost of only $350 for the Oculus Rift headset and $1000 for the Razer Hydra motion controller (now being sold at $150-$200 on various on-line sources)… this is cheaper than my first VCR back in 1978, which cost $527.

Of course… you still need a computer to run all of this… and Brad says that while his computer (not a laptop) cost $1,500, one could probably build a PC for between $700-$800… or use a gaming laptop computer for $1,400 - $2,000.

Oh yes… and the software… the software comes with a free three-month Pro Trial of Unity3D - and after that, it's a $1,500 one-time fee.

So… it's affordable. I would assume the Japanese hand-job robotic equipment and software will be more… but you get the gist…

I was lost in this virtual reality world for about five minutes… and it was fantastic.

And so… caught with my pants down… I stand erect as a penguin… and admit that while I might have made a bit of fun at the Japanese for creating a computer program and robotic sex arm device for a robotic hand-job…

… but having been immersed in virtual reality for a mere five minutes - and in a warehouse setting - I can see why people might enjoy spending time with some virtual babe (or guy).

So… Japan… I'm sorry. Shake hands? Er… on second thought… let's just bow.

But... having said that, I'll leave the last word to ProVantage Automation's Brad Zalischuk who wisely says: "There is a bright future for VR in the (packaging) industry, but the path has yet to be paved."

How very zen.

Andrew Joseph
PS: All photography was taken by Cole Garside, a very good friend and excellent professional photographer. He can photograph anything. Look him up and book him. If he's good enough for myself and Macleans magazine....


  1. Hello fellow Rifter!
    Looks like your having fun, you should come by for the Toronto Oculus Rift Meetup February 5th.

    1. Hey Stephen... I might do that! It depends on my wife's work schedule, though. Cheers!

  2. Virtual reality can lead to new and exciting discoveries in these areas which impact upon our day to day lives.

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