The gaming world seems poised to go into a new direction with the latest virtual reality advancements. This isn’t the first time the gaming community has attempted VR headsets. Sega, Apple and Nintendo attempted to introduce VR Headsets into the mainstream in the early 90s but were not successful. Fast forward to 2012 when Oculus mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign – VR headsets have been given a second chance at the spotlight.
There are plenty of options for VR headsets from the affordable Google Cardboard to the upcoming HTC Vive. The question is whether the VR headset will change gaming and oust traditional gaming systems and what other implications VR headset could have. Here are some of the VR Headsets out on the market:
Google Cardboard – $15
Google Cardboard is a simple affordable way to enjoy virtual reality. It’s basically a foldable piece of cardboard with specialized lenses that you insert your smartphone into. Although the experience is not the same as the high-end VR headsets, there are over 20 apps for users to try. It’s a great introductory VR option.
Samsung Gear VR -$99
The Samsung Gear VR uses the Samsung Galaxy smartphone as its processor and display. The phone fits into the headset and connects to a micro USB. It’s on the affordable end compared to other headsets and also has a good amount of existing content.
Sony PlayStation VR – $399
The Sony PlayStation VR headset does not ship until October but PlayStation console integration is a big selling point. The PlayStation VR uses the PS4 camera, the PlayStation controller and the headset to create the VR experience. Sony is expected to have 50 games available for the PlayStation VR release.
Oculus Rift – $599
The Oculus Rift is arguably the most anticipated VR headset that is coming to the market. The Rift will plug into your computer’s DVI and USB ports to provide an amazing virtual reality experience. Currently the Rift comes with an Xbox One Controller but Oculus expect to debut their own controller later in the year.
HTC Vive – $799
The HTC Vive plugs into your PC and integrates with Valve’s gaming platform. It comes with controllers as well as two mountable lasers to map your movement. The HTC has the ability to do room-scale virtual reality and requires 6.5 feet by 5 feet for game play.
HoloLens – $3000
Although it’s not really in the same realm as many of the VR headsets profiled above, the HoloLens is worth mentioning. The HoloLens is a blend of virtual and augmented reality. The HoloLens projects 3D images and also lets you interact with the real world during these projections. The HoloLens contains a Windows 10 computer in the headset and is completely wireless. The development edition will be available at the end or March.
The primary focus for many of the VR headsets hitting the market is gaming but these headsets could offer many other uses outside of gaming.
The ability to travel can be out of reach for some due to financial and physical limitation. With virtual reality the possibility to see the Louvre in Paris or go on a Safari in South Africa becomes a reality for those who can’t be there in person. Rapid VR is one company that is creating content such as swimming with sharks and visiting the Great Barrier Reef that can be viewed on VR headsets.
Virtual Reality has a lot of potential as a method of therapy. It is currently being used for many military members that are suffering from PTSD with encouraging results. Virtual reality is also being used to help people who suffer from a fear of public speaking. Presentation Simulator is an example of an application built to help alleviate anxiety by simulating speaking in front a crowd. Virtual reality is also an option for rehabilitation for stroke or trauma victims. It could assist patients in re-learning motor skills and the option of adding a game aspect to the therapy could add to patient engagement.
Virtual reality has long been used as a tool for training in the airline industry with flight simulators. Virtual reality is also currently being used for surgical training, dental training and CPR. The possibilities for virtual reality in education and training are practically limitless. The greatest asset is that virtual reality could be used by those who do not have access to education and hand-on training due to social or economics restrictions.
Virtual reality has vast potential in many industries. As the technology becomes more affordable and accessible it will be exciting to see how VR changes our computing experiences.