Virtual Reality (VR) is Here!
Currently there are several Virtual-Reality Head-Mounted displays being developed by a few companies, specifically, Facebook owned Oculus, Samsung and Sony. This week I will examine the need for these devices as well as the limitations that they face.
Why Oculus VR?
These head-mounted displays offer a truly immersive experience for consuming content. Imagine playing a game, or watching a movie, where the world in front of you completely covers your field of view. When you physically look left and right, the camera within the game moves accordingly, giving you a sense of presence you’ve never felt while consuming any form of media. Presence can be loosely defined as being so immersed in the experience, that you forget you’re using the technology at all.
Achieving Presence in VR
- In order to achieve presence, Oculus focuses on a few key areas.
- Tracking - The device has to be able to track not only your head turning but also where your head moves in a 3D space. This accomplishes things like crouching and jumping within the game. Tracking is very important. If you turn around, but your in game character does not make a full 180, this takes you out of the experience and diminishes presence.
- Latency - Latency must be minuscule. If one turns their head, and the game does not respond fast enough, again the experience is diminished.
- Persistence - This one has to do with motion blur. If you turn your head quickly and the image within the device is blurry and cannot keep up with the turn, it looks terrible. You want the motion blur to match real life. This is where persistence comes in.
- Resolution - The image that the screen produces has to be of a certain quality. Oculus specifies at least 1000 x 1000 pixels per eye. If you can discern pixels on a non HD image, this again takes you out of the experience.
- Optics - The device itself must be comfortable to wear and encompass the entire field of view.
When all of these factors are taken into consideration, a truly immersive experience with real presence is achievable. As you can imagine, hitting all of these points in a synergistic and comfortable manner is essential and difficult. Oculus VR has been working on their developer kits for years while pushing the consumer version back. I believe this is wise. In order for VR to catch on, you must deliver a super solid product that wows consumers. Their current developer kit is close to accomplishing this ‘wow’ factor, and a consumer version is expected by the end of 2015. In order to truly experience oculus VR, you have to try it for yourself. If you cannot wait, however, search for something called Google Cardboard. It’ll do in the meantime.
-Shatter Buggy, Denver