Virtual reality in recent years is more than whispers, people are waiting with baited breath to get our hands on the final consumer virtual reality products with good control systems, user experience and supported games. This E3 shows how close we are to that reality. Not only that but we see that the market appeal doesn’t even just extend to gamers… It includes all ages, genders, and in the case of Microsoft’s HoloLens: all professional disciplines. Finally, development of these products are on the home-stretch and we’re very excited dive into it – literally I hope.
Starting with the near and dear Oculus Rift, they’ve made some useful bounds that felt necessary. They expect a early 2016 release date and hopefully we see that magnificent light at the end of the tunnel come around that time. They’ll finally have hit the specs they set up in their 2012 Kickstarter campaign. And despite the embarrassing hiccup from Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe “misrepresenting” the pricing for Rift putting it at $1500 when that ALSO includes the price of the massive to run it. Thankfully though, the Rift will hit it’s expected price point at between 200-400$.
But… that’s not the most exciting thing that Oculus revealed. Now added into the mix is the Oculus Touch which is a controller for the Oculus Rift. It looks like a halved controller which each half in either of your hands, and along with a minimalist design and it’s seemingly ergonomic fitting (I haven’t actually felt them myself) it might be a good win for them, especially with Steam and HTC partnering to make their own VR product. Only time will tell if Oculus Rift pans out for gamer and user alike, but I sure hope so.
And then there is Project Morpheus. A similar VR experience as the Rift but for the PlayStation 4. I don’t claim any expert opinion on this, but it is certainly nice to see the Virtual Reality getting to all realms of gaming and not just PC. The design looks comparable to the Rift, with a more aesthetic pleasing design and what looks to be a more comfortable head rig – and I hope both the Rift and the Morpheus are incredibly comfortable, the first Rift dev kit is painful to wear. We’ll see if it’s as functional as it is pretty (who knows, maybe even more).
But ohhh did I save the best for last.. My main issue with Virtual Reality and it’s recent craze is a story of many ups and down, and while I’m a huge advocate of these products – and I’ll sure as hell nerd out on them – there are major gripes and pitfalls associated. To name a couple, the use of VR devices is limited to people who don’t get sick using them, and no matter how well designed motion sickness is still an issue; the closed off world of VR makes a very individual exclusive experience and while people can attempt to empathize what you’re actually feeling or seeing while immersed in VR you can’t fully experience what they do (but I have no doubts this is a solution that will be solved); and mostly, the applications of solely VR to the world around us is.. limited. But Augmented Reality – displaying virtual data on top of actual spaces around you – is freeing. This is why the Microsoft HoloLens is a gem and the biggest win at E3. I’ve been following this for quite some time now, and it’s good to see it’s making it’s way to the mainstream. Not only does the HoloLens offer new canvas for gaming by using your environment to game…
… Please please I need a Dungeons and Dragons engine for this…
But it also offers many REAL applications to the world. Imagine being able to design products and watch them built in front of your, or manage your social feeds, or the effect it’ll have on media and general entertainment. Gist is, Virtual Reality is cool, yeah sure, but Augmented Reality is the future, whether gaming or otherwise. Does this mean I won’t sink my money on both? No. Certainly not…
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The Hololens looks to be the future of computing. Its all self contained and will not need a separate PC to run it, surprisingly though it has been developed pretty quietly whilst all the main hype has been focused on the Rift, Morpheus and Steam VR.
This looks to have the potential to change not only the way we compute but the way we actually live. Microsoft also have a pretty big stake in the Rift so they are backing the AR/VAR genre in a pretty big way.
From all the reviews from the journo’s that have had a chance to experience it – the hololens seems to be blowing them away.