In front of each plush, black-leather chair in the audience, the chipmaker had placed a small table rigged with a high-powered laptop and an Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset. Workers directing the roughly 250 people there handed out barf bags as folks started sitting down and getting comfortable.
Soon after, Brian Krzanich, Intel's CEO, took to the stage Wednesday to express his company's vision for the future of VR.
"This is going to be fun," he said.
Krzanich said he believes VR will soon help people travel to exotic destinations from their living rooms, allow workers in hazardous jobs to use VR headsets and drones to inspect bridges or work sites from afar, and enable people to play all kinds of immersive gaming.
Intel is hoping to power a lot of these experiences with the help of its computing chips and Project Alloy, a cordless headset it plans to develop with its manufacturing partners.
For now, though, Project Alloy won't be coming to market anytime, soon and VR remains a niche in the entertainment and gaming worlds. Plenty of other tech companies expect VR to gain momentum, with HTC, Oculus, Google and Samsung already offering up headsets. All together, they sold about 10 million of those headsets in 2016, according to analysts' estimates.
A few minutes into the show, the entire audience donned their VR headsets and Krzanich invited them to fly over the vast desert landscape of Moab, Utah. Just after that, we were in rural Vietnam, looking at a water buffalo, waterfalls and a river. What was even more striking about this scene was that viewers could look around or over objects -- a feature most VR content doesn't offer -- by standing up or leaning to the side.
Once people in the audience started to realize they could see more by getting up, dozens of people did just that, standing up and looking all around them to get a fuller sense of the VR world they were visiting.
Not done yet, Krzanich then brought the audience courtside to a live NCAA basketball game. As I looked around, I could look all the way to my right to see a graphic for scores and stats. In another demonstration, we flew over a massive array of solar panels in Nevada, using the live feed from a drone there.
Last, we watched a trailers for a zombie apocalypse video game, with roving gangs of zombies grunting and shuffling their way toward us.
By the way, I'm pretty sure no one needed to use a barf bag.
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