Let us begin with a quick primer on the history of VR. VR was made in 1965 by Ivan Sutherland – he created the”Ultimate Display”, a device that could overlay wireframe insides on a room. The military was simultaneously researching and investing in VR’s potential for flight simulation and training.
The VR industry continued to grow during the next couple of years, but appeal was confined to just the most ambitious engineers and early adapters due to the cost of elements, and the computers that powered them. Even in the early 90’s, the price tag on a good virtual reality apparatus was over $50,000. click this site
PALMER LUCKEY AND OCULUS RIFT CHANGE THE GAME
Fast-forward 40 years and Palmer Luckey (the inventor of the Oculus Rift) created his first VR prototype at age 18 in his parents basement. Luckey eventually developed the product that would come to be known as the Oculus Rift.
The statement of the Oculus was followed closely by tech insiders, developers, and early adopters, all of whom had been chomping at the bit to experience this new frontier in VR development. It wasn’t long before heavy-weights like Facebook, Google, and Samsung took note and began investing heavily in VR with the hopes of making the first consumer ready device. Facebook believes so strongly in the Oculus Rift they acquired the company for $2 Billion in March of 2014. Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said that he sees the acquisition as a”long-term bet on the future of computing.”
The current lineup of VR products run the gamut in terms of accessibility and price. You can get your feet wet with Google’s product (aptly named Cardboard). Cardboard is extremely inexpensive, approximately $20.00. It uses simple to obtain components like cardboard, biconvex lenses, a couple of magnets, Velcro, and a rubber band. Rather than a built-in display like the Oculus Rift, this item is powered with any Android cellphone running 4.1 or higher (just slide your phone into the”headset”). You build it all yourself, after Google’s step-by-step directions with pictures.
The phone powers the entire experience with applications found in Google’s Cardboard app store). There are no external wires or clunky hardware to deal with… only the Cardboard case along with your own Android phone. At Primacy we recently built one to check out at house – the whole build took about 5 minutes from start to finish.
Given the present pace of innovation it’s a safe bet that both the hardware and software for Facebook’s Oculus technology will only get better in the months ahead. The consumer version, though not currently available, is expected to be published mid 2015. The developer model (DK2) costs $350 and comes packed with a low latency display (the same used in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3). The display delivers a respectable 960×1080 resolution per eye with a 75Hz refresh rate. The unit also comes with a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnometer and a near infrared camera for mind and positional monitoring. Applications are run on a computer that’s connected directly to the headset via an HDMI and USB cable.
Samsung saw an opportunity to jump into the VR mix and partnered with Oculus. They have produced a headset that resembles the most consumer-ready device so far. Samsung’s Gear VR Innovator Edition is exactly what you would expect from the tech giant both in terms of quality and usability. It’s also the most expensive option, coming in at an msrp of $200 for the headset + $750 (off-contract) for the phone necessary to power it. Unlike Google’s Cardboard, the Gear VR only works with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, so if you are fortunate enough to already own one you can save yourself a significant amount of money.
The headset itself is very well designed and quite intuitive. There is a volume toggle, touchpad, and”back” button on the right side of the headset which can be used to easily navigate through VR experiences and software. The top of the headset holds a focus wheel that is used to adjust the attention to optimum range for your eyes. Two straps hold the unit firmly in your head which seals your vision off from the external world to improve the feeling of immersion. Plus, the absence of any cables tethering you to a computer helps make the experience more enjoyable and portable.
There’s no need to take the unit off your head in order to download or change applications… everything can be accomplished through the Oculus Home menu or Samsung’s program library after the initial installation and configuration. There are a small number of interesting and useful apps included out of the box such as Oculus Cinema – for watching videos and movies in a digital cinema, Oculus 360 Photos – for viewing panoramic photos, and Oculus 360 Videos – for watching panoramic videos. Samsung also recently released a market called Milk VR that’s essentially YouTube for VR.
Samsung Gear VR
We’ve found that many of the applications available today are graphics heavy and the experience can degrade quickly without a fairly good graphics card. It is worth noting that encounters between 3D graphics and rapid motion can quickly become nauseating to some folks due to frame-rate or GPU limitations and a phenomena called”judder” (if the pictures become smeared, strobed or otherwise distorted), so it is actually the responsibility of programmers to make”comfortable” experiences which aim to minimize judder. Regardless of the downsides – when used in tandem with a computer that has a high end GPU, the result is a feeling of immersion that 10 years ago would have seemed impossible. The Oculus developer site currently lists both a PC and Mobile SDK which include integrations for Unity and Unreal game engines. The PC SDK is intended for the Rift DK2 where-as the Mobile SDK is intended for Oculus powered devices which leverage cellular phones.
We’re just starting to crack the surface with VR. The development of panoramic video and photo is making it easy to”teleport” audiences to places they could never physically be.
Imagine a front row seat to watch your favorite band play live… with the freedom to check in any way in real time. Imagine walking (literally… walking) through your favorite national park as if you were really there. Imagine sitting in a seminar room half way around the world and interacting with others as though you were really there. These are simply a couple of the incredible applications that VR devices like the Oculus Rift enable. So stay tuned – if current progress is any indication, virtual reality is here to stay, and it is going to be invading your living room or office much earlier than you may think.