Desired: Oculus Rift as a monitor replacement

Just read Wired article Oculus Is Awesome for Games, But It’s the Future of Movies

I had an idea I haven’t been able to shake since I first used an Oculus:

I want an Oculus Rift instead of monitors for programming.

I want to arrive at work and be able to sit in a chair which has a keyboard and trackpad mounted on it (perfectly ergonomically oriented to suit my body of course) and to be able to spin 360 degrees and be encircled by two dozen virtual screens which I can see simply by rotating my chair and head just as I do now with my 3 screens in the real physical world.

Arguably I could dispense with physical motion entirely, but I think it’s still faster and easier to just turn my head or my chair to switch between buffers than any other method, for the same reason I find myself far more productive with two monitors or three than with just one (for now at least!). Sure I can use virtual desktops with a single monitor today to do the context switching but it’s far easier to just rotate my head.

Paired with good audio, it could also have audible notifications for applications which are location oriented, so if my back is to my email program and I receive an email I hear it as though it’s behind me.

Of course the Oculus will have to come a fair way in terms of quality before it can render text with the kind of clarity necessary to suffice for such a task, but I see a future where we’re freed of desks with big, expensive, clunky monitors, using a large amount of power to beam colored light to our retinas in such a manner as to convey information, replacing that big expensive setup with a single Oculus.

Think of how wasteful it is to have a 27” monitor constantly throwing out the amount of light it consumes even when the user is not looking directly at it! And I’m limited only to the number of pixels that it can physically display?

And I had to pay $2k for the 2 Thunderbolt monitors currently occupying my desk, I’d gladly pay the same for a VR headset with sufficient resolution to be able to display many times the screen real estate! So this isn’t just a pie in the sky dream, it would also be an excellent profit-maker for someone that tackles it.

And since most trends start with the tech elite, this is a fantastic target market for an incredibly high priced device. If a company offered this today, I would be throwing my money at them.

Truth be told, I started writing some such software myself but was quickly stopped in my tracks since the current Oculus hardware display is waaay too low res to make this feasible. And I don’t have the time or the expertise to build my own hardware for this as a side project.

I hope our current model of monitor on desk goes the way of the dodo and we put on our VR displays to do work and our children ask why we use an odd picture of what looks like a painting for display preferences just as they wonder why we use a floppy disk to denote save.

Were I to read the tea leaves I’d suggest this will be the next radical change in software development. I can’t be alone in this desire.

Screens? Where we’re going we don’t need screens.

You should follow me on Twitter: @victorquinn

Published 28 Jan 2014

Scaling and leading engineering and data teams to solve the world's problems
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