As I am a VR Virgin, I need to read a lot of stuff other people have written. I am sharing this information about wearable virtual reality goggles from WWW.Wearable.com by Paul Lamkin, dated June 12, 2015. The facts are unaltered, I made some of my own comments…..and looked up some of the words I did not understand. Some of these headsets are high end…and have the high end price tag to go with them. Some of the head gear works with a PC while others use your smart phone and downloadable applications. My definitions are at the bottom of the article. (You can check anytime you see an asterisk.)
Oculus Rift (PC)
Paul Writes: Oculus Rift is the virtual reality headset that started the current hysteria. Developed by 21-year-old engineer Palmer Luckey, funded via Kickstarter and snapped up by Facebook for a cool $2billion, the Rift plugs into your computer's DVI and USB ports and tracks your head movements to provide 3D imagery to its stereo screens. It is set to hit the consumer market during the first quarter of 2016. It launch with two wireless touch controller to allow hand tracking and will also be Xbox One compatible. Price to be determined
Lisa adds: Read more about what is in store as the new Oculus Story Studio creates and releases five short VR films this year. Oculus Story Studio is based in San Francisco and several of their 10 employees are Pixar veterans.
Sony’s Project Morpheus (PC-PS4)
Paul writes (with Lisa adding): Sony’s Project Morpheus headset is set to launch the first half of 2016. A new version was announced at GDC 2015 and gone is the 5-inch LCD display of the original prototype; in its place a 5.7-inch OLED one that will improve motion blur* (?) and enable low persistence* (??). The display's refresh rate has been ramped up to 120hz, making 120fps* gaming a real possibility. The reported latency* (another word to investigate) issues of Morpheus Mk1 have been addressed, with a new 18ms reading, and tracking accuracy has been tweaked with a total of nine LEDs now aiding the positional awareness of the headset.
Lisa Adds: Sony will release Morpheus in 2016 for PS4 gamers. This makes sense to me since Sony has been a major contributor to video game technology for many years. Through a system software update the PS4 systems will handle the 120 frames per second when connected to the Morpheus headwear. They have not set their price yet.
HTC Vive (PC)
Paul Writes: HTC unveiled the HTC Vive, a Steam VR headset made in a collaboration with Valve at MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2015 - and it's due to hit the shops before the end of the year. The Vive plugs into PCs and work with Valve's mammoth gaming ecosystem and has a design that's reminiscent of Oculus Rift's Crescent Bay edition. It packs 70 sensors and 360 degree head-tracking and offers a 90Hz refresh rate; the stat that's key to keeping down latency. There's an accompanying "context aware controller", so you can shoot, move and interact with elements in the virtual world. Price to be determined.
Lisa Adds: Steam VR has me scratching my head…I immediately think of my steam iron and wonder….the best I can find is that it is referring to “The room-sized VR world that feels like an IMAX In your house”. I found an interesting article by Sam Machkoech on arstechna.com by the title I mentioned above. Feel free to explore on your own…let me know what you find out!
Samsung's Gear VR (Smartphone… Note 4 or Galaxy S6 only)
Paul writes: Samsung's Gear VR has delivered one of the best all-round and consumer friendly headsets on the market, albeit, with a restrictive walled garden* (Say what?) that we're becoming accustomed to with its wearable offerings. It is an Oculus Rift powered device that uses a Samsung Galaxy smartphone (Note 4 or Galaxy S6 depending on the version you choose) as its processor and display. The Galaxy handset simply slots in front of the lenses, into a Micro USB dock, and uses its Super AMOLED display as your screen. It's already added a host of games and a whole marketplace of VR video content called Milk VR, which is available in the US. In our Samsung Gear VR review, we said that “Samsung's first VR headset is an awesome peek into the future of VR for the rest of us and we're betting on Samsung to make good on its promise to get enough movies, games and VR experiences onto the Gear VR as possible." Price: $199.99
Lisa Adds: I have nothing to add to this article except the definition of restrictive walled garden which I have added to my definition list below. Hopefully they will increase the models of their products that can be used with this head gear…having it available for only Note 4 and Galaxy S6 seem restrictive as well.
FOVE VR (PC)
Paul Says: FOVE VR differs from the likes of Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus because it offers interactive eye-tracking. Inside the headset is an infrared sensor that monitors a wearer's eyes; offering both a new control method and an edge on its competitors when it comes to realism. With FOVE, simulated depth-of-field is possible, due to the system knowing exactly what you're looking at and, as a result, the virtual should appear more real. FOVE makes use of the Wear VR software platform and is compatible with Unity, Unreal, and Cryengine game engines. From $349
Lisa Adds: This is over my head…..the only reaction I have is WOW …the price!
Zeiss VR One (Smartphone)
Paul writes: Like the Samsung Gear VR, the hardware power for this Zeiss branded headset comes from your smartphone. Unlike Sammy's effort, however, you're not tied to just one mobile with the Zeiss VR One; it will play ball with any iOS or Android handset between 4.7 and 5.2 inches. It packs a media player for the likes of pictures and YouTube videos and an AR app for augmented experiences, open source Unity3D SDK (iOS and Android) mean there's plenty of scope for development. What's more, with lens mater Zeiss doing the optics, there's plenty of promise. Price:$120
Lisa Adds: From other information I have read, this head gear fits only the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5 for now. VR One uses custom slide in trays to make it compatible with multiple smartphones, but at launch it only supports these two. Also the foam face pad has no easy clean covering so I would not want to share with any sweaty friends!
Paul Says: Razer's OSVR isn't a rival to the likes of Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus and Samsung Gear VR – and again, there's little chance of it making into living rooms any time soon. It's intended to make life easier for developers to make applications VR hardware – without technical (software and hardware) limitations getting in their way.
Open source* is the big buzz word, breaking down limitations that hinder development even on Oculus Rift. Don't expect to see a consumer version until 2016 at the earliest. Price: $199.99
Lisa Says: I have nothing here.
Google Cardboard (smartphone)
Paul: Not to be outdone, Google announced its Cardboard virtual reality headset at I/O 2014 and unveiled version 2 at the 2015 conference. Popping a smartphone into a cardboard container and then strapping it to your head may sound like a joke, but it actually works and it could become a low-cost way to experience virtual reality. After all, your smartphone contains all the necessary gyroscopic sensors and positioning systems to accurately track your head movements.
Lisa Adds: You can find several versions of this headset VR Viewer….and you can even build it yourself. On the original, a rubber band holds your android phone in place and your hands and arms hold it up…there was not strap for hands free viewing. Read more in the review of Google 2 by GIZMAG.
Paul writes: Essentially Google cardboard but, er, not cardboard, Archos' attempt at bringing mobile VR experiences to the masses is a sub-£25 (about $ 45) device that was announced in October. The Archos VR Headset works with any smartphone with a screen sized 6-inches or less, and the French company claims it will work with iOS, Android and Windows Phone - although you'll be hard pressed finding any developers knocking out VR apps and demos for Microsoft's mobile platform. $29.99
Lisa says: While the price fits my budget, they are kind of ugly……
Lisa writes: While this article focuses on an article by Paul Lamkin at wearable.com, I have learned a lot about the headsets he has mentioned and the technology behind them. I have ordered several models of smartphone VR Goggles not mentioned in his article and will do a review on them as my next post. I am sure it will not be full of technical facts…just my opinion of how the ones I purchased fit, feel and function.
Fps-frames per second
Latency- a measure of the time delay experienced by a system (per Wikipedia). I experience time delay when I have a migraine…it takes a little time for my brain to process what my eyes are seeing...same effect can happen in the VR world…between the software and the interface.
Low persistence- The only mention I can find to define this is a reference about immersion that describes low pixels persistence as 3ms or less….
Motion blur- described in photography as blurring the background to indicate motion…in the VR world it refers to backgrounds going out of focus when you are turning you head or otherwise moving around.
Open source- an open platform, where consumers have unrestricted access to applications, content, and much more. The opposite of walled garden
Restrictive walled garden- (Wikipedia) A walled garden is a software system where the carrier or service provider has control over applications, content, and media, and restricts convenient access to non-approved applications or content.
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