April 28, 2016
VR Headsets – Where are we Now and Where we were!
2016 and 2017 will be phenomenal years for VR tech. Especially that of the VR headset. 2016 is making a splash with the Oculus Rift and other similar gaming tech. We look at VR Headsets 2016 Upcoming New VR Headsets VR 2016 VR 2017. We also look at some older tech that has somewhat paved the way.
Virtual reality (VR), which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact with that world. Virtual realities artificially create sensory experience, which can include sight, touch, hearing, and smell.
Many people are familiar with the term ‘virtual reality’ but are unsure about the applications of this technology. Gaming is an obvious virtual reality application as are virtual worlds but there are a whole host of uses for virtual reality. Some are more challenging or unusual than others, such as video, education, Healthcare, etc.,
The first fifteen years of the 21st century has seen major, rapid advancement in the development of virtual reality. Recently, companies like Google have released interim virtual reality products such as the Google Cardboard, a DIY headset that uses a smartphone to drive it, economical in price; restricted in visual effect.
However we look at various other products and few fun ones that have hit or will be upcoming in 2016 and 2017. VR Headsets 2016 Upcoming New VR Headsets VR 2016 VR 2017.
Telesphere Masks and Sensorama machines
Telesphere Masks and Sensorama machines were the first indication of Virtual Reality. These AR headsets and machines look funny compared to todays devices but without these technological pioneers the great push of VR in 2016 and 2017 wouldn’t be possible.
Sega, Nintendo and various other companies tried with AR or VR technology over the years. We fast forward to recent times to look at headsets that have actually made a sizeable splash on the market or what will be big going forward in 2016 and 2017.
The restrictions in visual experience of Google Cardboard have led to the enhanced versions which finally answered the unfulfilled promises. Promises made by virtual reality in the 1990s will come to market at that time. Improvements has been made on the basis of cardboard with the addition of capture sensor. More complicated built-in control system, focus gear, screen.
Get it, fold it and look inside to enter the world of Cardboard. It’s a VR experience starting with a simple viewer anyone can build or buy. Once you have it, you can explore a variety of apps that unfold all around you. And with plenty of viewer types available, you’re sure to find one that fits you just right. Insert your phone for instant VR. Not the best VR experience but for the price it does everything that you would expect it to.
Samsung Gear VR
The Samsung Gear VR is actually Oculus Rift lite, given that the two companies collaborated for the technology.
The Gear VR is simply a case that uses a Samsung Galaxy smartphone as its processor and display. The handset simply slots in front of the lenses, into a Micro USB dock, and uses its Super AMOLED display as your screen. Slot in the phone, stick on the headset and you’re into your virtual reality experience. The only catch is that you must use a Samsung handset.
Microsoft HoloLens blends virtual and half augmented reality to make one of the most ambitious launches ever planed. The device merges real-world elements with virtual ‘holographic’ images, meaning you can look at your Minecraft world on your kitchen table, or walk around the surface of Mars in your living room.
Using Kinect-style tech to recognise gestures and voice commands, the headset has a 120-degree field of vision on both axes, and is capable of ‘high definition’ visuals, but it’s still a letterbox compared to the likes of Oculus and Vive.
More importantly, however, there’s no connection to a PC – a full Windows 10 system is built into the headset and runs off a battery.
Oculus Rift – Oculus VR
With FaceBook purchasing Oculus for 2 Billion Dollars there is obviously a lot riding on the technology. The Rift has an OLED display, a 1080p, or 1080×1200, resolution per eye, a 90 Hz refresh rate, and 110° field of view. It has integrated headphones which provide a 3D audio effect, rotational and positional tracking. The positional tracking system, called “Constellation”, is performed by a USB stationary IR LED sensor, which pinpoints the entire room with infrared and LED lights, which creates 3D space, allowing for the user to use the Rift while sitting, standing, or walking.
In June 2015, Oculus revealed that due to the rapid innovation in the VR industry, it intends to release a successor to the Rift in around 2–3 years.
Sony Playstation VR
formally known as Project Morpheus, Sony has just renamed the company’s upcoming virtual reality headset to ‘PlayStation VR’. Quashing fears that VR heralds the dawn of anti-social gaming. This device has a HDMI output and USB port which will allow the action to beamed onto a TV screen. More than just revolutionizing vision, Sony’s developers have only gone and designed a new 3D audio technology especially for Project Morpheus, offering users stereoscopic sounds in all direction depending on head rotation.
HTC Vive is a virtual reality headset developed by HTC and Valve Corporation. Released on 5 April 2016. This headset is designed to utilize “room scale” technology to turn a room into 3D space via sensors, with the virtual world allowing the user to navigate naturally, with the ability to walk around and use motion tracked handheld controllers to vividly manipulate objects, interact with precision, communicate and experience immersive environments. The Vive has a refresh rate of 90 Hz. Using two screens, one per eye, each having a resolution of 1080×1200.
HTC uses more than 70 sensors including a MEMS gyroscope, accelerometer and laser position sensors, and is said to operate in a 15 feet by 15 feet (4.6 meters by 4.6 meters) tracking space.
Pico Neo VR
The very first VR all-in-one console. Built with Snapdragon 820 Quad-Core SoC, alongside with 3G high speed LPDDR4-1866 RAM, and eMMC 5.1 SSD storage. Pico has re-made this astonishing computing power into Pico Neo’s ground-breaking Mobile VR performance. Two 3.8inch 90HZ AMOLED displays with 1K resolution inside the helmet, give a lower streak and better color zone than LCD displays. Two unsymmetrical aspherical lens provides 98% luminous transmittance, good FOV and even lower image distortion.
This revolutionary product doesn’t need a high spec PC. It’s all built in. Pico Neo runs the latest PUI, re-developed for virtual reality based on Android 6.0. PUI works beautifully with Pico Neo, it’s immersive launcher gives a totally different insight of the new world.
Headsets from Microsoft, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo.
Back in October, Microsoft revealed that mixed reality headsets for Windows’ native headset integration were in development by five major hardware makers: Asus, Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Now the company’s have revealed those headsets will reach the market in 2017. The lowest priced among them is said to start at just $300. Chinese VR headset maker 3d Glasses has also joined the team, and will support the Windows mixed reality environment on their S1 VR headset in the first half of 2017, according to Microsoft. Microsoft’s HoloLens of course will also be in the mix.
Microsoft has revealed the PC requirements which will be needed for its range of affordable Windows 10 VR headsets (or Mixed reality head-mounted displays, as the company prefers to call them), and the good news is a very affordable PC (or indeed notebook) will be capable of running these VR Headsets.
The specifications (which were co-developed with Intel) for the headsets call for a minimum.
In that case, it looks like the Surface Studio is more than prepared for VR
Stark contrast Overall, then, you couldn’t get a much more stark comparison to the requirements of the likes of the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. That said, this is a bare minimum specifications, and it’s just for running Windows VR stuff, not potentially much more demanding games (which of course vary widely in terms of their requirements). That means no need for a high-end dedicated GPU as is required for the current generation of PC-based VR headsets. We noted month that is last the apparent Windows Holographic minimum spec was surprisingly low. With more than 400 million Windows 10 users, this push could bring VR to a massive audience.
Microsoft has said they will be equipped with inside-out positional tracking (which doesn’t require external sensors like we see with the Rift and Vive today).
These headsets are being created to work with the forthcoming Windows 10 Creator Update, which is planned to hit consumers for free this springtime. The headsets will be able to natively tap into the ‘Windows Holographic’ environment, and run more than 20,000 flat Windows apps, which may also be designed to extend into the virtual environment. If virtual reality needs a shove to help it reach the mainstream, Microsoft could well be providing a helping hand here.
OSVR (Open-Source Virtual Reality)
Open-Source Virtual Reality, or OSVR, is an environment designed from the ground up to make VR as accessible as possible to both gamers and developers.
When developers support OSVR, they implicitly add support for ALL major PC-based VR hardware – the HDK, Rift, and Vive. By supporting OSVR, they also implicitly add support for many 2017 VR headsets and peripherals, all with no additional work.
For gamers, OSVR allows you to play both content developed for OSVR and content developed for SteamVR on any OSVR-compatible hardware. While no plans are finalized as of yet, others in the industry have also proven that OSVR will allow you to play Oculus content on OSVR-compatible hardware.
It’s important to remember that OSVR is currently still in its infancy. Initial setup has recently been streamlined into a one-click installer, but users may still need to carry out some manual configuration of config files. Positional tracking is still under development and can be jumpy. The SteamVR-OSVR plugin, which allows users to play SteamVR software on OSVR-compatible hardware, requires manual installation. It is often broken by new SteamVR updates, but by selecting an older Beta version can be made to work again. Some games also appear to rely on API calls that are not currently implemented, resulting in glitches.
All of these things are being worked on, and will improve with time. But OSVR is not currently consumer software. If you are a developer, OSVR is the most effective way to ensure your game reaches users on the widest range of VR hardware. If you are a gamer who enjoys tinkering, configuring, and playing with the latest gadgets, OSVR will allow you to play a wide range of content. But you must recognize that OSVR is a product still in development; things will improve, but they might also break along the way.
The Samsung Gear VR Version 4
Gear VR headsets are pretty awesome, although now in its third generation not an awful lot has changed between the iterations. Generation 4 however could really kick things up a notch.
A new patent filing from Samsung was published this week, showing eye- and face-tracking technology in a VR headset.
The application was actually made back in May, but details of the “Image processing for Head mounted display devices” patent have only just come to light, and could see future Gear VR headsets sport sensors that detect eye and mouth movement.
Infrared cameras could also map your entire face to build a 3D model of your head – which could see your face plonked onto your virtual avatar.
These additional sensors would bring Samsung’s Gear VR headset closer in line with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, with the continued benefit of not tethering you to an expensive computer.
There’s currently no word on when this new generation of Gear VR headset will be available, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it lands with the Samsung Galaxy S8 in the first half of 2017.
Apple, VR 2017
Apple has been attacked throughout the year for failing to jump on the Virtual Reality headset bandwagon following Facebook, Samsung, Google, HTC, Microsoft, Sony and others. Apple’s “failure” to deliver a VR headset product this year has been the subject of many handwringing articles from analysts and journalists expressing concern for the company given the exciting future promised by VR.
However, a variety of research firms are now reporting much slower VR sales than expected–due to both limited content and high hardware costs.
Further, the fragmented market split between higher end PC and console-based headsets (including Oculus Rift and Sony’s PlayStation VR, below) and various lower end smartphone-based headsets (including offering by HTC, Samsung and Google) has resulted in a dearth of compelling content for any particular ecosystem.
What role Apple should play in virtual reality has been debated for a while now, but Oculus had a couple of things to say about Apple as a whole. Talking to ShackNews at the Microsoft Windows 10 Showcase in San Francisco, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey was asked about the probability of the Oculus platform ever supporting Mac OS X; his response was that it depends on if Apple ever “releases a good computer.”
Luckey explained that Apple simply doesn’t offer a Mac with a good enough graphics performance to meet the specifications recommended by Oculus. Not even a Mac Pro with the “top of the line” AMD FirePro D700 is capable enough to run Oculus Rift, Luckey said.
It boils down to the fact that Apple doesn’t prioritize high-end GPUs. You can a buy $6,000 Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700 and it still doesn’t meet our recommended spec. If they prioritize higher-end GPUs like they used to for awhile back in the day, I think we’d love to support Mac.
Sony PSVR (Playstation VR)
Sony has joined the world of virtual reality gaming with PlayStation VR. The headset represents the cheapest of the “big three” available on the market right now, and is the only option to console gamers as things stand.
Priced at £349.99, it’s significantly cheaper than both the Oculus Rift (£549) and HTC Vive (£759). However, players will also need to invest in a PlayStation Camera priced at £44.99, and, to enjoy the “full” experience, a couple of PlayStation Move controllers, with a twin pack costing £69 (although you could probably find them for less). This brings the total cost to £464, which is still cheaper than the Rift headset, with Oculus also charging £189 for its own controllers.
PlayStation VR is up there with the best virtual reality headset you can buy right now. It’s cheap while not compromising on performance and quality. The headset is simply stunning and incredibly comfortable to wear. And the games already available are some of the best VR experiences.
Compared to the Oculus Rift it offers a far more comfortable gaming experience at a much lower price point. Against the Vive it may not offer the level of detail and immersion, but is pretty darn close and doesn’t require the installation of additional sensors in your home and will not demand as much space for many games, either.
Don’t think of PSVR as the “cheap” alternative to what the PC has on offer right now. It’s definitely worth investing in a couple of Move Controllers to enjoy the true experience in all games, though.
HTC Vive 2.0
The year, 2016, has been a defining year for virtual reality. Many big companies such as Sony, Samsung, Microsoft and HTC released their own VR offerings this year.
The HTC Vive did particularly well, selling around 140,000 headsets by November 2016. The company is expected to launch the next iteration of the VR headset in 2017, which will be integrated with many new features, at the CES event in January. Here are five expected features for the upcoming HTC Vive 2.0. Wireless headset: The HTC Vive 2.0 might be a wireless VR headset. Currently, the HTC Vive headset needs to be connected to a PC or a TV via an HDMI cable. Customers can also use a $220 HTC Vive accessory, which will connect the device to a PC over a wireless network.
The upcoming iteration has been reportedly developed by Quark VR and HTC. It will come with a transmitter, which will send and receive Wi-Fi signals between the Vive and PCs.
The new HTC Vive 2.0 is expected to come with two 4K screens. Currently, no specifications about the device are known, but for a 4K VR headset to work well, it will need a 3840 x 2160p resolution, up from the existing Vive’s 2160 x 1200p resolution (per eye resolution is 1080 x 1200p).
Room-scale VR: The new headset is expected to feature “room-scale” VR — VR enabling the use of clear space to allow movement for users so that the user feels real-world movement is being replicated in a virtual environment. The current Vive headset does feature room-scale VR, but the upcoming device will track real-world environment and integrate it with virtual environment movements.
Enhanced lighthouse mechanics: HTC Vive could come with a “lighthouse” technology — it floods a room with non-visible light and uses positional tracking to figure out its 3D surroundings. The current headset’s lighthouse mechanics are complicated and sometimes difficult to set up.
Improved refresh rate: With all the features the device is likely to have, the inclusion of an improved refresh rate seems to be imminent. If the company wants to make a 4K headset, it will need to endow the device with a refresh rate of at least 120 Hz, up from 90 Hz on the existing device.
Finally, with products out and some products shipping now the instance of VR is on us.
Check out our other VR posts
This year, 2016, is a good year for VR Headsets. As the technology evolves it offers more and more opportunities for better VR Headsets. This is the first part of Best VR Headsets in 2016. Enjoy!
In Best VR Headsets Part 2 we will see even more amazing VR Headsets of 2016. Enjoy and leave your thoughts.
This is our Best VR Headsets Part 3 of 2016. Enjoy and leave your thoughts.
With the future going VR, the possibilities of what you can do with the technology is amazing. Some will just stay as concepts due to cost or production. Some will hopefully break through and hit the market.
We are constantly looking at how this technology will evolve and we will keep you posted on any other news or releases we will have upcoming.
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