The “Oculus Killer” and the past year in VR
As we near the end of 2015 we find ourselves at the cusp of the VR revolution. The stage is set for the big VR HMD players to hit the market in early 2016, bringing our science fiction dreams off of the production line and in to the hands of consumers. As we wave good bye to what has been an exciting and fast paced year of technology development, we start to look forward to the manifestation of this technology in the real world. Excitingly for all involved, the journey is only just beginning, and If last years annual technology event, CES, held in Las Vegas, is anything to go by, then we are no doubt in for a healthy fill of new VR ideas to bring us rolling in to 2016.
WHO REMEMBERS THE “OCULUS KILLER?”
Pondering about CES, and the exciting announcements it has to offer got us thinking about what VR looked like at the beginning of 2015. Which reminded us of one of last years ‘big’ show stoppers. An entry that was quite literally too big for its own good, and was described in as much detail as required in an article by Ben Lang over at RoadToVR, when he stated, simply, “It’s Beyond Bad”.
If you’re not familiar, then the headset in question is the “3D Head”. Shown below.
Image cited at BusinessInsider
While the name of the headset set suggests some kind of break through in hardware for the adult entertainment industry, the specs themselves didn’t have that much to offer. The bulky, over sized and cumbersome ‘helmet’, that would be better suited in Cyberpunk adaptation of VR, entered the global stage last year with big, yet somewhat vague, claims. Claims that, when challenged in an interview at the “Oculus Killer” booth at CES 2015, left viewers feeling, annoyed, sympathetic and confused, all at the same time.
Like most facets of life, VR comes with the good, the bad and the ugly, and VR Head is undoubtedly an example of the latter. But that being said, 2015 has also had a lot of good points. With a massive push from the likes of big publications such as the New York Times to get Google Cardboard into the hands of the public, which translated in to more people on the planet having tried VR now than ever before. To the success of the Kickstarter campaign for SpaceVR, a project that aims to attach the Overview One MK III 360 spherical camera to the ISS as it orbits earth. Giving users the chance to connect, via their VR HMD, to a live stream as its beamed back from space.
This year has seen the announcement of bundles and bundles of new game titles that will come to us in many shapes and sizes, Eve: Valkyrie, Robinson the Journey, Tekken 7 to name just a few. All of which we have to look forward to along with the release of the consumer VR headsets.
The Consumer Rift
2015 was also the year that we finally got to take a look at what consumer virtual reality headsets will look like. With the announcement of the Oculus CV1, that’s due for release in Q1 2016.
HTC Vive Release Date
To the recent announcement from HTC Vive that their headset will be “commercially available in April 2016.” Which is a virtual reality headset that comes to us a collaboration of efforts from HTC and Valve.
Morphing the Morpheus
2015 was also when we witnessed the unveiling of Playstation’s move in the VR market, as they announced on Twitter in September that their headset would be leaving its working title, ‘Project Morpheus’, behind, to make way for its more direct label, Playstation VR (PSVR).
First ‘Consumer’ VR
As well as that, we saw the release of the first official ‘mainstream’ consumer virtual reality product, that came to us back in November in the form of a MobileVR device known as GearVR. The GearVR is a device that takes the latest Samsung Mobile phones and turns them in to a virtual reality headset, giving the user a taste of what the real deal has to offer.
We have also seen some vast leaps over what are, arguably, some of the the biggest hurdles for VR. As the consumer range of VR HMD’s are now ready to deliver a platform that doesn’t generate simulator sickness. While there are still massive improvements to be made in this area on the software end, developers are coming up with creative new ideas daily that tackle this problem. From innovative new ways to transport users through the virtual world, to new transitional techniques such a ‘Reverse Vection – a design process that manipulates the amount of pixels that remain motionless on the display during locomotion.
To add to the list, we have also seen an array of new motion trackers (Notiom), haptic devices (Dexmo F2, GloveOne), controllers (Oculus Touch) and all manners of other enhancements to the immersive technology sector. All of which adding up to give us a sense that the VR revolution is fast approaching our horizon, and this is just the tip of the iceberg!!
To be continued…
Edit: VR Head was actually a hoax put together by Billionaire Alki David to troll CES, more about that here