MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- From the back seat of an Acura MDX, I peered out at a stone house on a cliff, fields of wind-swept grass and blue butterflies close enough to touch.
All of it was a mirage.
In reality, I was in the parking lot of the Honda Silicon Valley Lab here. Strapped to my head was a virtual reality headset called the Oculus Rift, which looks like a pair of black ski goggles but bulkier and with ominous protruding wires.
Two of the engineers from Honda’s r&d laboratory sat in the front seat. One guided the MDX through the parking lot, and the other held a laptop. But inside the Oculus Rift goggles, I was cruising through a virtual world, craning my neck to take in the scenery as we soared above a facsimile of a Tuscan cliff.
When I took off the headset, I returned -- with some regret -- to Honda’s drab parking lot. I asked Nick Sugimoto, senior program director at the laboratory, how Honda could possibly use the Oculus Rift for anything more than a curiosity.
“We’re in the middle of brainstorming that right now,” Sugimoto said.