Technology is making progress fast.
In the last fifty years itself we have seen some great improvements in the technology we use in day to day life. Our phones have become more than just communication devices. They are now like powerful computers that we carry in our pockets.
Even the transport industry changed so much in last 3-4 decades. We have Tesla which is a company that makes cars that run on electric energy. But let us not talk about everything. This post will be focused on Virtual Reality.
Introduction – What is Virtual Reality?
When we talk about virtual reality or VR, we always think of situations like exploring new stuff without going anywhere.
These can be places, adventures, and a different virtual life simulation social network altogether boiled down to “escapism”.
Now all this might sound like something that we humans should stay away from. But we are curious creatures. We like to dominate things that are hard to achieve and so is the concept of VR. Apart from theories and concepts, making a proper working VR device has been a very tedious task.
If you are wondering what exactly virtual reality is, then let me explain it to you first before going any further.
Virtual Reality is basically a computer-generated 3D surroundings that is projected for the user after they wear a specific device that is made for the user to see and experience the VR experience. These experiences can be video games, some virtual 3D app, VR movies etc.
While you are using a VR device, you get an experience that is synonymous to real life experience and the images and videos are projected in such a way that your brain compiles them as thinks they are real.
How can we use Virtual Reality?
The first thing that comes in an end user’s mind when we talk about VR is gaming. I’m not saying they are wrong. I’m just trying to mention the fact that there are a lot of other useful applications of virtual reality in the fields of medicine, training etc.
Let us talk about some of the uses.
Virtual Reality in Medicine
This one is interesting.
VR is used in medicines for various purposes like phobia treatment, treating mental illness by making them see healthy and useful surrounding and providing optical illusions. It is also being projected that VR will help doctors to operate a patient from a remote location using robots and virtual reality.
In this technology the doctors will be able to see the patient like they were with them and they can use programmed robots to perform operations. This is supposed to make treatments cheaper and affordable.
Virtual Reality in Training
Virtual Reality is used by training centers to train people to fly aero planes, buses, bullet trains etc. These kinds of application helps in providing proper practical knowledge to the learner without the risk of any mishap that might happen while using real vehicles and apparatus.
This is crucial in saving both human lives as well as money. This application can be applied in military, healthcare, engineering, construction business etc.
Virtual Reality in Gaming
This is also an interesting application. We might think about the Oculus Rift when it comes to VR gaming, but it isn’t the first VR headset that ever came into the existence. There was one from Nintendo as well and it was called the Nintendo Virtual Boy that was launched back in 1995. So, you now have the idea that the concept of VR is being worked on since a long time!
It looked great on paper. It had a console, a controller and a headset that you could wear and it rendered 3D images and gave you a full VR experience. BUT image all the games being rendered in blood red color. That might give you a serious headache, won’t it?
It was way ahead of the time and it was basically a flop.
But now that Oculus Rift is hear, we can expect some acceptable VR gaming experience and the development of Oculus Rift has been quite good. The company is now owned by Facebook and the development is still going on.
Recently Oculus Rift released the requirements for using it and it mentioned a PC specification that came under $1000 and it will be enough to get the Oculus Rift experience along with the headset as well as PC in that $1000 we mentioned.
This is definitely affordable and this is projected to go down as the time passes.
Comparison between major VR players!
In this section we are going to compare some of the major players in the VR segment right now and we are going to list them one by one.
- Google Cardboard
- Oculus Rift
- Samsung Gear VR
- Microsoft HoloLens
- HTC Re Vive
Google surprised everyone when they announced the Google Cardboard at Google I/O 2014. Now, this was not a full-fledged VR kit but it was great at what it did.
You didn’t need to spend hundreds of dollars for the VR headset as Google just used a simple cardboard cutout design with NFC chips. Google then invited companies and OEMs to adopt the whole Google Cardboard VR concept and create Google Cardboard sets themselves that they could sell under their brand names.
The Oculus Rift was originally a project that took Kickstarter by storm and got funding using crowd funding on Kickstarter. A lot of development took place and many companies like Valve etc. came forward to work with Oculus to make it better and suitable for public uses.
Later Oculus as a whole company was bought by Facebook and they took the company under their umbrella but Oculus continues working in their own rhythm to create a great VR headset.
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung is a company that is known to make experiments of all kinds. So with the release of Samsung Note 4, they also released their own VR headset with partnership with Oculus and it was named as the Samsung Gear VR.
This used the Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s screen as the display in the headset and then the lenses inside the headset helped the user to experience a great mobile VR experience.
HTC Re Vive
How can a company like HTC stay behind in the VR race when Samsung has already made a significant entry?
HTC partnered with Valve to make their own VR headset and they launched it along with the HTC One M9. But when compared to the Samsung Gear VR, this VR headset can do so much more.
It is a full-fledged VR headset and HTC is working hard to make it better and they are developing it rapidly. They are also partnering with content providers who will be providing VR content for the headset so when it launches you will have stuff to take a look at.
If you thought Microsoft was missing out on the VR scene in the tech industry, then you are so wrong.
Microsoft’s vision of the VR is actually the best one any company has ever showcased. While other companies like Oculus are focusing on gaming related stuff, Microsoft wants to take it to a whole new level by providing more applications.
There is no public model yet showcased but the concept video is one of the most impressive ones. They want to make your surroundings interactive so you can actually have a Skype call while you are in VR and do a lot more along with it.
Take a look at this Microsoft HoloLens demo:
Tabular comparison between major VR headsets
|Samsung Gear VR
|HTC Re Vive
|Price is less than $20
|Needs a $1000 setup including PC
|Available for $199
|Still in the works
|Still in the works
|Works with most mobile phones
|Needs a PC to work with
|Only works with Samsung Galaxy Note 4
|Needs a PC – still in the works
|Works with a Windows 10 device – still in the works
|Can be used with multiple apps on Android as well as iOS
|Currently only works with a few games on PC
|Needs proprietary app to work with
|Can be used to perform multiple functions
|Can be used only as an entertainment device
|Can be used for gaming, training and many other purposes
|Can only be used for entertainment
|Can be used for gaming, training and tutoring different courses
|Can be used for day to day uses like Skyping, watching movies etc.