With HD, 3D, Ultra HD and faster more powerful graphics cards coming out. We’ve been able to enjoy better graphics in games than ever before. We have watched movies with outstanding special effects.
But despite this, I just always felt that there was something missing. We are still getting all this content by staring at a flat screen. To me, its like going to someones house party and standing outside and participating through the living room window. You’re not really a part of it, just watching from the outside.
I have always loved the idea of being a part of a fantasy environment. Perhaps i’ve been watching too much Star Trek or Red Dwarf. Star Trek shows us holodecks where you can basically be anywhere and any when with anyone! Red Dwarf shows us Virtual Reality such as a game called Better then Life where you live an alternative life where everything great happens! These futuristic virtual reality simulators are always portrayed as being just like normal reality. In fact, in Red Dwarf, in one episode it turns out the whole of Red Dwarf itself was just a computer game!
So of course the talk of Virtual Reality headsets has got me interested.
It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to try out an Oculus Rift Developers Kit model that I realised how interested I am! It is the first time since the birth of smartphones that any piece of new technology has actually excited me!
I believe with the release of the Oculus Rift, in 2016 + other competitor headsets that we could be on the dawn of a real VR revolution. The Rift will no doubt be the ZX Spectrum of computers today. Its a huge step in the right direction.
So how does it work? Well its actually quite simple. The rift displays a screen for your left eye, and right eye. It also senses all your head movements and moves the game around at exactly the same time with next to no latency. That way you are physically looking around your environment giving you a feeling of actually being there. In fact the feeling of actually being there can be so good, that it can give you motion sickness.
VR Headsets aren’t anything new. Its been tried before and failed. So what’s different now? Well we didn’t have the graphical capabilities to drive these things before. We also didnt have the online multiplayer and access to content that we had before. I believe these have provided the required foundations to make VR a true success. (They just need to fix the motion sickness somehow!)
Frustratingly, the Oculus RIft and other VR headsets don’t available yet. Yet there seems to be user communities springing all over the place. Its great to read, but just adds to frustration because I don’t have one yet they do! They have the developer kits. However for those keen to get into the game. There are headsets such as Google Cardboard which allows you to use your own smartphone along with it, to experience VR. Smartphones already have the motion tracking capabilites, a graphics chip and a screen. So the headset is merely a wearable mount for your phone!
I was sceptical at first about how good this would be. But actually I was really impressed! It wasn’t as great as the Oculus, which gave a full field of vision. But it showed me the potential this technology has for the future. Truly immersive media. I watched a trailer for Insidious 3. Except I wasn’t watching it. I was part of it. Looking around at all the scary stuff going on! I virtually walked around a Boeing Dreamliner checking out all the features the aircraft has to offer – which was basically an interactive advert for KLM.
Suddenly I’m no longer standing outside looking in through a window. I’ve joined the party!