So far, the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset has found its most widespread use in gaming. But as the device rises in prominence, more companies are testing its capabilities as a work tool.
Bloomberg is one of those companies, having designed software that allows Oculus-equipped traders and financial pros to view dozens of virtual “screens,” each one packed with data. The platform is clearly aimed at those Masters of the Universe who stack their real-world desks with four, six or eight screens—the better to take the pulse of the markets. Think of it as a traditional Bloomberg terminal on steroids.
“This is a mockup of how virtual reality can be applied in the workplace,” Nick Peck, a Bloomberg employee responsible for creating the software, told Quartz. “I really wanted to explore how virtual reality could solve one of the most basic problems we hear about: limited screen real estate.”
A virtual-reality Bloomberg terminal isn’t the only practical application proposed by Oculus Rift users: Earlier this year, the Norwegian Armed Services began testing whether the hardware could be used to drive tanks, on the supposition that off-the-shelf cameras and a headset built for virtual gaming could prove cheaper than custom-built military equipment. Attaching cameras to the exterior of the vehicle, and wiring their feeds to the Oculus Rift, would give the tank driver a much better view of the surrounding area than peering through a hatch.
Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift means the team behind the device has money and other resources to continue its development for quite some time. However, competitors are on the rise, including Sony’s VR headset, and there looms the perpetual question of whether these headsets will go mainstream at some point, or remain a mere sideshow. Increased interest in virtual reality could encourage companies to follow Bloomberg’s lead in exploring immersive applications, but it’s anyone’s guess when—or even if—such software will ever see widespread use.
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Image: Bloomberg (via Quartz)