Netflix whips up 3D VR viewing room for Oculus Rift during company hack day
By Ian Paul, TechHiveAug 21, 2014 6:40 am PDT
Facebook says Oculus VR is focused on refining the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for gaming right now. But the Rift holds potential to go far beyond gaming, into areas such as medicine, education, and journalism (to name just a few). When we got a look at the Rift during E3 2013, another non-gaming use case that engrossed us was a virtual reality movie theater.
Apparently some people at Netflix also see Oculus Rift’s promise in the home entertainment. During the company’s recent hack day a team of employees developed a cool looking 3D interface for the Rift to help you choose between the next episode of House of Cards or a Breaking Bad marathon.
Hack days are a common “fun day” where tech company engineers kick back and let their creative coding juices flow. If something cool comes out of the hack day the company just might use it—Facebook’s Like button and BitTorrent Sync are two examples of this.
Often, however, hack days are just a series of experimental projects that never see the light of day. But it’s easy to envision Netflix actually using the Rift UI, or something like it, given the overall trendiness of the Oculus Rift.
The basic interface is very similar to what you might see on your average HDTV app for Netflix: A bunch of billboard-shaped icons representing TV and movie titles. In the case of the Rift, the icons completely surround your field of vision.
The experimental UI also supports gestures, allowing the user to scroll through the titles with their hands instead of moving their head around all the time. Once you pick a title, the project drops you into what looks like a dark virtual room with your chosen TV show or movie displaying on a large screen.
It’s a very nice, simple design, and one that could be a very engrossing way to watch videos—albeit alone in the virtual dark.
Check out the Netflix Tech Blog for more hack day projects including one that’s sure to appeal to all you Vim geeks out there: Netflix on the command line.