Before yesterday I'd never strapped on an Oculus Rift. I'd read about it, sure—the new, now Facebook-owned VR headset that is set to "change entertainment forever." Or something. But yesterday was my chance to actually try the thing for real. Call me skeptical, but I didn't expect much. 

Paramount had invited me check out the The Oculus Rift DK2 traveling exhibit, a new activation cosponsored by IMAX, in order to promote Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated space epic InterstellarThe Oculus Rift stations were set up in the lobby of the AMC Lincoln Square theater, under a canopy filled with promo imagery from the film.  Three seats—sort of like space-age La-Z-Boys—were available, and they sat me down in the middle one. After adjusting the headset which fit comfortably over my glasses, the (very nice) attendant explained the process to me: "You can look anywhere you want. Do what you'd do normally. Have fun!"

The "experience" itself (it feels weird to call it anything other than "an experience") was only three minutes long, and involved me first exploring the spaceship from the film and then floating around in zero gravity. As my environment changed, the space-recliner gave me force feedback—sort of like what you'd get in the Star Wars ride at Disneyland. The actors from the film never appeared, but the sensation of traveling through the ship was uncanny, quite unlike anything I'd ever seen. The system tracks your head movements so carefully that it is able to mimic what it's like to actually be inside a three-dimensional space. A few times I peeked around the back of my chair, and could see behind me. Granted, the graphics aren't perfect—they're a far cry from HD, and could even be described as grainy—but it's the sensation that's the kick. It may be rudimentary, but the potential is clear. 

While I can't imagine a full-length film in Oculus format, it seems like the perfect vehicle for more advanced ride experiences in the future or, obviously, videogames. Just imagine a world where subway cars are filled with people sitting silently with personal Oculus headsets, each on a planet of their own. That may sound terrifying, but it's the future. 

If you want to check out the exhibit for yourself, it will be at the following locations: 

New York

AMC Lincoln Square 13

October 6 – 8


AMC Gulf Pointe 30

October 17 – 19

Los Angeles

AMC City Walk

October 25 – 27

Chantilly, VA

Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center

November 5 –19