With much fanfare, Brendan Iribe announced Oculus Medium at their VR-focused conference Oculus Connect yesterday. Think of Oculus Medium as the MS Paint of Virtual Reality, the parallel drawn by many media outlets covering the event, including The Verge. The video promo below is a great introduction to the technology:

According to Iribe, "every new platform needs a paint app."[1] More to the point, every new platform needs (1) a creation tool and (2) a demonstration that showcases the unique characteristics of the platform. MS Paint fulfilled both criteria and continues to do so. It shipped with Windows 1.0 in 1985 and proved that the Windows PC could be a platform for content creation while it simultaneously trained users how to use the mouse as an input device. The mouse / 2D graphical user interface was introduced with MS Paint, the multitouch screen and pinch-to-zoom was introduced (in its first truly successful iteration) by Apple with maps and a software keyboard, and VR will hit the market with Medium.

The gravity of Medium is nothing short of revolutionary (and really, truly revolutionary), even if many of the ideas are (coincidentally or not) borrowed from TiltBrush. It proves that VR is a fully-fledged platform, demonstrates that the user's hands (coupled with a suitable controller) can be the input device, and paves the way for VR to be a platform for both design and consumption.

Any useful platform must necessarily provide the interface for both creation and consumption of content. As a VR developer during the period of infancy of the platform, creating an experience on a 2D screen and porting it to VR is just not the same as making content within the same system used for its consumption. You wouldn't complete your next website design on a typewriter before publishing it unchanged to a computer; the analogy holds for making immersive environments on a 2D screen. Medium is a glimmer of the spectacular power of the virtual reality just around the corner. There is no telling what the Photoshop of VR will look like or who will make it in these early days, but given Medium as a point of reference, it promises to be an absolutely extraordinary interface for producing virtual 3D.


  1. http://venturebeat.com/2015/09/24/oculus-connect-all-the-announcements-and-trailers-from-vr-companys-keynote/ ↩︎