Someday, you might be able to sit down to watch Netflix’s “House of Cards” with a virtual-reality helmet strapped to your head, to see around corners and experience the political machinations in a 3D environment.
Or maybe not.
Whether VR is the future of entertainment — or just a passing fad — Netflix is among those tinkering with the technology.
Last week, a team of the company’s engineers worked up a demo of “Oculix,” a 3D virtual room of the Netflix interface using Facebook’s Oculus Rift VR headset. The app included gesture support, so that when the viewer turns his or her head, the view of the “room” shifted accordingly. Facebook, for one, has placed a $2 billion bet on VR with its acquisition of Oculus (before the startup had shipped a consumer version of its product).
The Oculix demo emerged from Netflix’s latest Hack Day, held Aug. 14-15 at its headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif. More than 150 Netflix engineers participated in the event and produced more than 50 ideas — some jokey, and others that may hold commercial promise.
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“If something interesting and useful comes from Hack Day, that is great, but the real motivation is fun and collaboration,” the event’s organizers wrote in a post on Netflix’s tech blog, noting that the concepts may never progress into actual products or services.
Other hacks that Netflix highlighted:
- Netflix Hue: Automatically adjust a room’s ambient lighting, using Philips smart light bulbs, to match titles a user is browsing or watching.
- Netflix Mini: An extension for Google’s Chrome that lets users watch video in a mini-screen while using the browser for other tasks.
- Circle of Life: Home-page interface concept that shows one central title, surrounded by 10 related movies or TV shows in a circle.
- Dropflix: Provides the ability to share video clips, favorite titles and perform other actions by dragging-and-dropping poster art from the Netflix home screen and browse interfaces.
- Nerdflix: Clearly just for laughs (we think), this demo features a DOS-like text interface designed for our “loyal, mouse-averse customer,” says Nerdflix’s creator, Sanjit Bhattacharjee.