Virtual reality has been a thing of science fiction for a long time, but now it seems that home virtual reality entertainment is on the cusp of reality. Things have come a long way since Nintendo released their Virtual Boy system in 1995. Today’s virtual reality machines are complex computer systems that give users a life-changing, fully immersive experience.
Yesterday’s Fiction Is Today’s Reality
While there are a lot of companies fighting to have the best virtual reality platform, a handful of companies are emerging as top contenders. One company that has been in the news for a few years now with their ever-evolving virtual reality technology is Oculus VR. In 2014, Facebook saw such great promise in the company’s Oculus Rift virtual reality system that they paid a whopping $2 billion for the company.
At an event in San Francisco in June, it became clear that investment may finally start paying off. Oculus VR previewed their Rift headset as well as their Oculus Touch hand controllers. While there were no hands on demonstrations, video projections showed what games on the Rift may look like. Details emerged about the Rift like its need for a high-end gaming computer to properly run. Other features were improved upon to make the headset and experience better. The biggest change Oculus made to the headset was making it lighter and have the ability to fit better on a player’s head. Software changes include improving the 3D audio to make the experience even more immersive.
History of Virtual Reality – Reality Check
Just like any major consumer technology, there are many companies emerging as VR producers. Sony, for example, is producing a virtual reality headset that would work with its PlayStation 4 console. The latest hands-on demo for the Morpheus project was at the E3 expo this year. Unlike the Oculus Rift, there is no audio input through the headset. Players must wear separate headphones, but this does not take away from the sound or experience. Many of these games use the Move controllers or the DualShock controller, but one company is changing things a bit.
The Virtual Players Are Very Real
Minecraft Hololens demo at E3 2015 (amazing!)
If Sony is doing it, then you know Microsoft is doing it, too. The HoloLens project is Microsoft’s answer to the burgeoning virtual reality market. Not meant for simply playing games, the HoloLens is a pair of smart glasses running windows 10. Users will be able to play games, but also control their Windows computer through the use of VR images. This new technology is the next step after Microsoft’s Kinect platform.
As any gamer knows, the hardware means nothing without the software to go with it. While it is unclear how many titles will be officially released with each virtual reality system, there are a few games already making waves.
The Walking Dead has been a pop culture juggernaut for over five years now, taking over everything from comics to television and even video games. To continue this trend of pop culture dominance, a virtual reality game is being developed based off the hit property. In the demo version, the playable character is wheelchair bound and being pushed by an NPC. While this eliminates the need for movement, it can cause motion sickness in some players, a side effect that will have to be addressed in many virtual reality games. Other games like Monster Escape/Monster Battle will incorporate both VR controls and traditional controllers into a multi-player experience.
You Think This Is A Game?
Gaming is not the only use of this new technology. Military agencies are already using similar technology for training purposes and pilots can use the same technology for their training. Beyond that there are a handful of home security providers looking to use VR to keep you personally safe. IC Real Tech has debuted their virtual reality home security cameras which you can use to monitor your home using the Oculus headset or simply their smart phone app. While the overall benefits of using VR cameras to monitor your home are limited right now, the people at IC Real Tech claim it’s only the first step to creating 360 degree views of your home for you while you’re away.
While VR is right now best reserved for entertainment purposes that doesn’t mean it’s only going to be limited to that. Given the large number of various enterprises who are looking into the technology who knows what we’ll see happen with it in the next few years. The future of VR may be up in the air at this point, but with the technology finally meeting our expectations, VR’s future is looking bright.