The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Jan. 29, 2014
A Windsor expat is developing applications and games for the Oculus Rift, which has recently raised $75 million in venture capital to make it the most successful piece of virtual technology equipment to ever exist.
Virtual reality devices are a sought after piece of tech in the computing industry and applications for virtual reality devices are wide ranging. Many believe that they will become commonplace throughout various industries within a few years.
“We believe Oculus will not only alter the gaming landscape but will redefine fundamental human experiences in areas like film, education, architecture and design. Oculus is at the tip of the iceberg of its potential, and we’re incredibly excited to help them change the world,” said Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm, said in a press release last month.
Oculus previously have raised an $18.4 million in funding, and have sold more than 40,000 Oculus Rift development kits to developers that are actively supporting the headset.
Mike Fortais is a Toronto-based Oculus developer who got his start locally with a degree in Tradition and Digital Animation from St. Clair College. For the last five years he has been employed in the video game and simulation industry.
“I’ve [developed for] Android, iOS, PC, Mac, there was some Blackberry.. [and] as far as the simulation [contracts], most are under nondisclosure. agreements,” he said.
Fortais was a texture artist for the Xbox 360 game Murder Miners and explained that less than five per cent of his skillset was developed through his education, while the remainder was self-taught.
“There’s so many other applications for the Rift [besides gaming],” said Fortais. “Be it engineering visualizations, architectural visualizations, medical, to be able to train surgeons, you could have a first-person perspective unlike any other the applications are very widespread.”
Fortais expects the device will change how people interact with technology on a very fundamental basis.
“This is going to be big. To what scale, I’ll hold my reservations. But as it is now, after [developing with] this thing for one-and-a-half months, I don’t want to play [or develop] regular games anymore. This is so much fun.”
“I firmly believe two-three years after the initial [release], everyone will want one of these,” he said.
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.