Children of the 1980s might remember the ill-fated Nintendo VirtuaBoy? The VirtuaBoy was a VR headset that Nintendo claimed was going to revolutionise gaming and allow it to reach the next realm - virtual reality. Sadly, all it did was give people headaches, bad stomachs and empty pockets.
As long as computer games and even TV has been around, we’ve been consumed by the opportunity to be consumed…..within a virtual world. The idea of an all-encompassing place we can go to with the help of a pair of glasses or a headset has been heavily focused on and regularly attempted. Almost all have failed dramatically and the rest were only slightly less unsuccessful.
However, it seems we’re now on the cusp of a virtual world and may soon be able to live inside a kind of dream. This is one where we can snap on a headset and enter a different realm. Even though we’re not there just yet, the reality is that the future of virtual reality looks very bright and the likelihood we’ll soon be trying to strengthen our neck muscles to balance a headset looks high.
No article on the future of virtual reality topic can be complete without mentioning Oculus Rift, the crowdfunded VR headset which gave the consumer an appetite for virtual reality again. Though still not released, Oculus has tweaked, showcased and given us all a better understanding of what virtual reality in 2014 can do.
One of the company’s current demos of the product involves a game called ‘Game of Thrones ‘Ascend the Wall’. The experience uses VR, a metal cage, large fans and a sound track to stimulate an elevator used in the series to bring characters to the top of an 800 foot wall.
Reports are that it’s a highly engaging experience, that even causes people to perceive their balance shifting as they become engrossed in the experience. Needless to say it’s not hard to see how something like this could alter the gaming industry and it’s only a matter of time until it does. Both Sony and Samsung are offering versions of VR headsets on the market at the moment, although none seem as developed as Oculus Rift.
Currently available, Google Cardboard is a far more robust and rudimentary take on virtual reality, albeit one that showcases the potential for the technology for very little money.
The device is simply a cardboard headset that uses a person’s smart phone to create VR optics for very little. It’s quite limited but it allows the average person to see how this new form of viewing works. Here are some of the best apps currently available.
A more professional and better middle ground between Oculus Rift and Google’s simplistic cardboard set is AirVR’s headset that utilises the excellent Retina screen on the iPad Mini and the iPhone 6+ to create a virtual reality environment. Available for around £35 and shipping this month it’s a more attractive option than the Google set and delivers a better experience with a whole range of more exciting options than Google’s cardboard headset, albeit for more money.
The future of virtual reality looks quite exciting and we don’t think it would be audacious to suggest that Oculus Rift and similar style devices will become commonplace in the next 18 months or so.
With the gaming industry the largest entertainment one in the world and VR likely to be a huge game changer, VR headsets are a potentially very lucrative technology and one we now have the technology to create. And as we all know, where there’s money, there’s a way.