What Was Barack Obama Looking at in Virtual Reality?

The leader of the free world got an eye opener this weekend, trying his hand at some VR tech.

Obama made a stop with his “good friend” Angela Merkel at an industrial technology trade fair in Hanover, Germany, where he peered through a googly eyed cardboard headset and appeared to be reaching out and touching something. He reportedly reacted to the VR demo by saying it was a “brave new world.”

So with tech sites like the Verge wondering what in the world Obama was looking at in VR, it’s not as crazy as we would hope like a 3D skull or the world in the palm of his hands.


What may look like a simple cardboard VR viewer that you may find free with your New York Times or Swimsuit Issue, this headset is in fact much more sophisticated. On top of the cardboard headset you can see a camera attached, kind of like a mini Kinect camera.

The manufacturer of the camera is a company called PMD, who happens to be Google’s depth sensing partner for Project Tango. The company is showing off their 3D technology paired with a Cardboard headset to enable touchless interaction.

The video below can paint a better picture, but basically the camera on top of the headset tracks your hands and fingertips, allowing for gesture detection, the ability to interact with VR content, or even see and bring real objects into the virtual world.

So what was Obama looking at in VR? His hands, but some very cool virtual hands at that.

The product Obama demoed is PMD’s first foray into building a platform for Cardboard developers and looks very promising from what we can tell. It doesn’t hurt that the company got an unexpected photo op with Obama demoing their product. But let’s be real here. The winner in all of this is actually googly eye VR headsets that are going to take the world by storm.

Image Credit: Reuters – Kevin Lamarque

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder of VRScout.

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