Experiences, Games, & Accessories For Virtual Reality Headsets
Experience - Play - Create - Learn
Experience - Play - Create - Learn
What You Need
Buy VR Hardware
Leading Headset Models
SAMSUNG GEAR VR
After many years of development, the makers of Virtual Reality games and headsets are gearing up to flood the market with devices which will finally deliver the real life interactive experience that everyone has been waiting for. Over 1.2 million sales are expected in 2016.
Over the next few years you can expect to see further enhancements in the field while the manufacturers focus on building on the promise of early models.
For gamers, virtual reality looks set to grow into a gaming experience not to be missed. For non gamers there’s plenty of entertainment promise too. There will be plenty of options to watch VR on videos, and enjoy mind-boggling experiences. The way we watch movies and sports in particular could be in for a big shake up, along with the way we learn, shop, do business, and create art.
To enjoy the full exhilaration of engagement in virtual reality environments you’ll need a combination of a specially designed VR headset along with content in the form of games, experiences, immersive video, or movies.
If you’re new to VR – or even if you already have a headset – VirtualReality101 will be here to answer any questions you might have.
It’s early days for the technology, but we may well be at the start of a game-changer in the way we enjoy entertainment and information mediums.
Quite simply a VR headset is a device that fits over the head and in front of the eyes, so as to exclude any external influences from the wearer, and present visual information direct to the eyes. It’s the central piece of the VR puzzle.
These head mounted displays are designed to pull you deep into new ‘unreal’ worlds while effectively blocking out your perception of the current real one. Immersion is the key word to remember.
When wearing a virtual reality HMD you’re effectively escaping the real world, and entering a fabricated one where the proximity and all encompassing images you see create vivid representations of a new reality.In effect, a headset places you into an environment – and not just externally watching it – as if you were present in it.
Or at least so that your brain thinks you are.
These devices that deliver this effect are also known by a range of different terms including:
Essentially they all deliver the same thing, though in different forms. Entertainment and information delivered directly to your eyes – on displays that present images slap bang in front of them.
There are four types of headset that deliver the full VR experience :
No headset, no immersion, and you won’t get full VR. To get the most from the experience you need to deliver the virtual content direct to your eyes.
Imagine watching virtual reality material on a screen two feet in front of you and you’ll see the point. The real world will be encroaching on your senses, and interfere with the overall experience.
Many of the big manufacturers are working on development of headsets, and it may be some time before the dust settles and we see a clear winner.
And when it comes to choosing the best, the winner is going to vary depending on the methods of delivery as we covered above.
In the PC/laptop market, Facebook are clearly going to be a front runner with the Oculus Rift, which they reportedly paid somewhere in the region of $2 billion for in 2015. Developed originally by Palmer Luckey, the Rift was the first headset that appears to have overcome the main problem of nausea while watching VR material.
The Samsung Gear VR is a leader already in Smartphone VR delivery, and look to have a strong chance of gaining a first mover advantage. While in the games console arena it’s Sony that are set to enter the fray when the Playstation VR arrives in October 2016.
In each field there’s room for other lesser well known names to make their mark. Headset models from names such as Razer , Archos, and Freefly could all make an impact.
What Can I Watch Or Play?
Already there are apps, games, and experience videos on the market, combining to form what we’ll call a range of virtual reality content. Of course these are different experiences, and ones which will appeal in different ways to different parts of a global and diverse audience.
It’s likely that gaming will take centre stage in the early phases, though there are a whole raft of potential experiences that can be enjoyed.
You can learn much more on the dedicated content section, but essentially we can break the types of experience down into three main areas:
Already there are a number of released games specially developed to deliver VR action, and announcements of plans for more are coming thick and fast. Many popular titles are promised for use with the consoles of the two big manufacturers, while early games and experience type content for the Rift are also available.
Types of games cover every genre you can think of, including those covering covering horror, adventure, space, RPG, racing, puzzles, sports, skill games and games for girls.
Talking about the different experiences on offer – both already and as the technology develops – brings us into a real of never ending opportunities.
The potential types of experiences are endless. Example of experience type VR entertainment include mountain climbing, bicycle exercise, travel related, theme park, and sporting material. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Just about everything you want to do, or have done before but want to do again, can be replicated in virtual reality.
360 degree video has been around for some time. It can be viewed with or without a headset – in 2D with some of the virtual effect gained by being able to drag the view with a mouse so that you can see the video from multiple different perspectives, or throw in the VR headset on top of this and you get the full immersion while watching that really makes you feel part of the scene.
You’ll be able to enjoy VR with just a headset, but to get the full immersion there are a handful of add-on accessories designed to make it all even more real.
Examples include such items as gloves, full body suits, and omni-directional treadmills. Each in its own way acts to enhance the feeling of presence, of actually being there inside whatever you’re watching.
The possibilities inherent in VR entertainment are endless, but to deliver them in a way that can allow mass consumer acceptance will require further enhancements. It’s the headset and software developers that will be in the firing line to make this happen.
One specific area of attention may need to be on independent game/content development. Samsung’s Gear VR headset is powered by Oculus software, opening up possibilities of utilising the Oculus Mobile SDK to allow developers to create their own apps, games, and video content.
This is great news for Samsung, as it’s mobile that may present the brightest possibilities. There will come a point where smartphones approach the processing and graphics power of high end fixed devices. When that happens a whole new untethered world opens up.
The human body is a marvellous creation, designed in a complex structure with nerve endings that relay information to the brain. In virtual reality the trick is going to be to engage as many senses as possible to get as close to reality as possible.
One such sense is hearing, which has an effect on balance. The term “Galvanic vestibular stimulation” applies here. In the world of VR, there is a possibility of head mounted electrode hardware that uses electrical signals to affect the small hairs on the inside of your ear. If done successfully, this can produce the sensation of movement – up, down, forwards, backwards, flying – all of which will be key sensations in virtual reality experiences.
Other forms of body sensatory feedback may also be produced by wearing specially designed gloves, heart rate/body performance monitors, impact registering vests, and more.
It all sounds positive, doesn’t it. The headsets are on the way, the content is on the way, the big names are involved, there’s too much money invested for it to fail.
There’s no real competition. Other than real life experience. And many of us just cannot get those experiences in real life. We have the potential for escapism at its finest, with no risk, and at relatively low cost in many circumstances.
There’s no easy road ahead though. Work has to be done on integration and designs. The cost may be a barrier for some, especially when it comes down to the requirement for high end graphics and processing capability in PCs and laptops.
Clearly the idea of rotating the body to see what’s behind you can present some challenges while seated, and it remains to be seen how much motion sickness will figure in the experience. Early reports suggest it’s still a problem for many.
And the same problem that plagued 3D TV – the need to wear glasses which effectively acted as a barrier to watching with friends and family – could also have an impact. Though gamers are used to solitary action, use of the technology for wider family use may be restricted.
Even with this potential restriction though, there look to be answers on the horizon. Right now you can play interactive video games against friends in the same game with avatars. Facebook didn’t buy the Oculus Rift for nothing, and will be putting strong efforts into developing shared VR experiences, maybe by using Skype and other chat features with avatars.
Read more on the problems that you might hit with VR technology.
Throughout VirtualReality101.com I’ll be covering the headsets, games, and content that’s sure to drive virtual reality entertainment to the top of anyone’s must have lists throughout 2016 and beyond.
But with a subject so vast it’s going to take some time to get it all on to these pages. we’re going to need help, and we’ll get that by using other excellent sources of related info. There are plenty of them, ranging from well trusted and years-old encyclopedia type sites through to technical gadget and brand new ‘dedicated to VR’ sites.
Hit up on the resources page for some great information from a variety of great sources.
It’s early days for the technology, but the promise is immense. Almost beyond comprehension in its scope.
Think about any visual-driven experience, and the cost/practicality of engaging in it. Now strap on your headset, fire up your smartphone or PC, load your content, and settle back to enjoy.
Of course VR entertainment cannot replace the real thing. The human brain is very clever at knowing the difference between real and virtual, and equally of translating experiences in any way it chooses. We can already get the experience of intense immersion in games and other media without even needing a headset.
But for many of us VR will offer an enhancement to our visions of reality. It will transport us to virtual worlds. It will offer a cost effective, simple way to enjoy experiences that are as close as possible to real life without actually being there.
The future looks bright. We may just be at the point of a defining shift in how home entertainment – and all forms of interactive communication – is delivered and appreciated.
Once the technology improves with lighter weight headsets with higher resolution, or untethered models that work under their own power, VR will be everywhere.
We’re in for a cool, creative, and deeply interesting few years.
Enjoy the ride!
To round off this basic introduction – and maybe to whet your appetite for getting involved – here are a couple of starter videos……..