VR has enormous potential to transform how we work, learn, communicate, and experience the world around us. This year, we’ve seen the VR community harness that power in exciting new ways, helping to bring people together and support the global exchange of ideas. To realize VR’s full potential, we’re working to better understand and fund the most impactful experiences.
One area we’re focused on is education research. Oculus Education is sponsoring research at several institutions to explore how VR enhances learning, beginning with studies at Cornell, MIT, and Yale. These projects will develop a range of VR experiences—from manipulating the inside of a cell in a high school biology class, to training doctors and health care professionals, to collaborating inside a virtual classroom—and measure their impact on engagement, retention, and application in real-world settings. Data-driven research will help us pinpoint the particular areas where VR can have the most impact.
We’re excited to continue unlocking the educational superpowers of VR and to share the results with the broader industry. We also want to ensure that the most effective experiences can be available to everyone, so Oculus and Facebook are working to bring VR to more people and expand the ways in which people interact in virtual environments. Today, we’re sharing some principles that guide our approach.
Designing VR Experiences with Safety in Mind
We want to deliver VR experiences that are safe and comfortable. It’s important to build responsive tools to discourage abuse in VR and social experiences. To keep people informed, we launched our Oculus Safety Center with guidance on important topics like how to set up new equipment, our comfort ratings, and tips for parents who want to know more about VR.
Our teams also share best practices with the VR developer community and work to ensure people follow our Code of Conduct on our platform. We want people to feel safe and enjoy their immersive VR experiences, whether they’re a VR veteran or coming to the technology for the first time.
Build a Diverse VR Ecosystem
VR is for everyone. We want to create a space for people of all types to express themselves in a way that has the most impact. That’s why we helped start the 360 Filmmakers Challenge, an initiative that inspires engagement and teaches high school students to use VR in creative ways—to tell their stories and consider how they can enact social change.
Our Creators Lab program pairs up-and-coming filmmakers with nonprofits to spread awareness of important issues and inspire social change. We’ll have more to share on the second year of Creators Lab soon.
Also in its second year, Oculus Launch Pad supports promising VR content creators from diverse backgrounds, helping to make the ecosystem more inclusive and representative of the populations it serves.
Motivating aspiring creators to use VR will enrich the broader VR ecosystem, leveraging the technology for good and expanding VR’s reach to new communities.
Making VR Accessible to Everyone
VR has the ability to expand access to engaging and hands-on educational experiences. We’ve already seen how VR creators have translated experiences into effective tools with the potential to level the educational playing field. While some students can physically walk the halls of the US Capitol or visit the Colosseum in Rome, others may not have that same experience. VR helps to close these gaps by bringing experiences directly to students, fostering an excitement to learn and see the world. As part of the effort to expand access to VR and the educational opportunities it unlocks, Oculus partnered with the state of California to make Rifts available in 90 public libraries across the state.
Making VR and skills available to as many people and communities as possible can also help create new jobs and economic opportunity. Access to VR and other emerging technologies can help more people, businesses, and institutions take advantage of immersive education and training, which is poised to contribute positively to the global economy.
These economic benefits are already being felt through more efficient workforce training applications and increasing job opportunities across global industries. A recent study we commissioned with Analysis Group found that the impact of VR and AR on the global economy could exceed $120B by 2020. We can’t wait to help deliver on that promise.
Developing and Sharing Best Practices
We’re committed to working across the industry to develop and maintain best practices and provide educational resources to bring VR to more people. That’s why we co-founded the Global Virtual Reality Association with other leading VR headset manufacturers to work collaboratively on global education, research, and promoting best practices in the field.
VR has made tremendous strides in a few short years. It’s already revolutionizing the way in which we engage and mobilize communities, educate students and employees, and promote economic progress. We’re excited for what’s next and to continue building on everything that’s been accomplished by the global community of developers, educators, students, filmmakers, and tinkerers in 2017.
— The Oculus Team