With the announcement today that Oculus Rift would begin shipping this week, it seemed like great timing for Hulu to be out in front of the news with a report of their own that they had prepared a virtual reality app.
Variety broke the news earlier this week, that the streaming service would be providing a way for subscribers to use VR equipment to stream their favorite movies and TV shows in a virtual environment.
There are currently 30 virtual reality-optimized videos available to both Hulu subscribers and free streamers as of right now, and the app is available in VR app stores. Netflix and Amazon are both in the hunt for launching their streaming services in virtual reality as well, but neither yet have content explicitly created for VR devices.
It does seem like with all the hype this week, and even despite some initial criticism, that virtual reality is the future, especially in entertainment. And while we’re not trying to go against the grain here, we are curious if perhaps the hype itself is a bit exaggerated at this time. As Geoffrey Fowler at the Wall Street Journal reported, a device like Oculus might be the best thing your neighbor could ever buy. In other words, they’re just not yet worth the money for where they’re at developmentally.
Our other main concern is the isolation associated with virtual reality and streaming movies and TV shows. While the experience might be great alone in an apartment on a Wednesday night, nobody is going to want to come over to watch you watch a movie via virtual reality. In order to combat this, users would require to all have their own devices. If that’s the case, maybe just watching a movie on the couch with current technology is still the best option.
That being said, there is something extremely cool about being able to perhaps play a minor role in our favorite shows and movies all in virtual reality sometime in the near future. How cool would it be to join James Franco as he travels back in time while watching ‘11.22.63.’ There’s also the opportunity to port us to worlds where we are all far more connected despite physical distance. Imagine being in the same room as a friend or family member who lives miles away watching a movie “together” via VR.
That’s an exciting possibility.