User interfaces in VR face their own set of challenges other media don’t. You aren’t just responsible for designing the on-screen UI elements. You literally have to design the user’s entire virtual environment. I guess that’s one of the reasons the concept of a literal home is used so often. Oculus, Netflix and Microsoft all have a virtual house or apartment from where you access their features and manage the system.
The Gear VR Netflix interface puts you in a big city apartment that really felt a little creepy to me at times, but is definitely an improvement over simply sitting in a dark void watching Friends. Which is an apt description of hell if you ask me.
Oculus Home is much more sophisticated than that and now thanks to a major update you can do even more with one of the world’s fanciest menu systems.
A TV in Every Room
The most impactful feature is the ability to put “dash panels” everywhere. Basically, these are traditional 2D screens the same as we’ve seen in Oculus Desktop. In other words, you can use non-VR apps anywhere in your Oculus home. So setting up your own virtual gaming room or home theatre is now possible.
I’m not a huge fan of virtual items as rewards in traditional apps, but in VR it makes a lot of sense to try getting a new sofa or carpet, right? Well, this new screens-everywhere update has some unlockables as well.
That old-timey CRT and arcade cabinet are two examples, which I’m sure will make most of us who live in tiny bland apartments pretty happy.
Rolling Your Own
The other huge update might undermine the effort to get people to unlock stuff., Oculus Home now lets users import their own assets. As long as it’s in the .glb format, you simply drop it into the imports folder and then place it in the home as you like. Be prepared for some truly terrifying custom homes.
They’ve also promised that support for object creation tool Medium is in the works, so the sky’s the limit it seems. Or at least the ceiling.
I already prefer spending time in VR homes instead of my actual place. I don’t see these developments helping that particular problem.