There are a plethora of Virtual Reality (VR) products and devices that are available in the current market, the objective of this post will be to provide an in-depth look at the capabilities of current VR devices. One article from TheVerge.com categorized all VR devices in “three general classes” as “Cheap” “Mid-range” and “High-end”.
Cheap forms of Virtual Reality include things like the Google Cardboard where a smartphone can be put into the cardboard hold to generate a low-quality VR experience using various apps on both Google Play and the App Store. This form of VR is a very basic experience where the user is staring at their smartphone using a simple holder with holes to see through.
The absolute best-quality VR experiences, unfortunately, can’t be powered by a mobile phone. High-end virtual reality devices include devices like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR all run on external devices such as computers or game consoles. These devices can offer sophisticated features like motion tracking, high-resolution screens, and the best graphics possible. Higher end devices also offer more comfort, they are better at blocking outside light and are less prone to inducing motion sickness. The HTC Vive, in particular, is known for its seamless integration of external controls in your VR experience.
Motion tracking involves both tracking of your body with external controls and even tracking of your eye so that the display screen can shift based on where the user is looking. One groundbreaking VR headset that has integrated eye tracking technology is called FOVE. The most notable examples of high-end VR headsets are the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. A comparison of these devices can be seen in this short video.
Google has produced numerous VR devices including goggles, headsets, monitors, video case holders, glasses, etc. These new VR accessories cost roughly between a dollar for a do it yourself cardboard device, or up to $1,716, for an Editor’s Choice gaming computer used to power a VR headset. These devices are the latest and hottest trend on the market.
Samsung is offering customers for a limited time a deal when they purchase a Galaxy S7 edge or Galaxy S7 cell phone. Once the customers purchase a new phone they will receive a free Gear VR or 256 GB memory card. This Gear VR headset allows the customers to obtain 360-degree angles to truly experience their surroundings while capturing special moments to always remember later on. This headset not only takes pictures it enables customers to dive into video games, movies, and news like never before.
Apple has recently announced their newest additions to the latest iPhones the iPhone 7 and the iPhone Plus. With the new iPhones having many advanced features they are perfectly compatible with a VR headset or device. Apple failed to describe to future customers that they were releasing the first mass-market virtual reality camera. Apple has not necessarily released a headset for virtual reality but we can look forward to FaceTime VR in years to come.
Sony has also taken a leap to create its own virtual reality device. The product will be released October 13th, retailing at $399. According to Sony, PlayStation VR will be most people’s introduction to ‘good’ VR. The device has some flaws but is tailor made for console gamers. PlayStation VR uses Sony’s PlayStation 4 game console along with the PlayStation Camera to provide tracking. The screen in the headset allows for a 100-degree field of vision of and is able to locate the back of the head as well as the front so users can look directly behind them. The camera tracks the VR headset around 1,000 times per second providing a seamless experience.
As we approach 2017, VR is beginning to take itself beyond entertainment and move closer towards an everyday part of our lives. Check out Google’s incoming headset, the Daydream. The Daydream immerses its viewers into a realm that incorporates VR apps into it. These apps are not just games but can range from anything between YouTube, CNN, and video-chats. Once these headsets become assimilated into our culture, we may find ourselves plugging into a VR device instead of our clunky laptops. During Google’s I/O 2016 Conference, Product Manager Nathan Martz invited the audience to be developers of the Daydream; “For all of this information about how you can be a Daydream developer, including how to build your own Daydream developer kit, check out developers.google.com/vr/” This is significant because just like Facebook, Amazon, and Uber don’t own inventory and rely on their customers to create their product, Google is now allowing people to develop their own stuff. Lindsay Metcalfe, Design Manager at Google, said “What we are really excited about is seeing what you are all going to create.” Not only is Google looking ahead and anticipating new technological products of the future, but it is also creating its own innovative business and research strategies in order to get ahead of the competition.