F8, facebook's developer conference, happened this past week with lots for the AR community to be excited about. To give you an idea how high AR | VR was on the agenda- those lucky enough to attend got a free Samsung Gear VR and Galaxy S6 which, signals "you better get on this."
So much has been going on in the last few days in the VR world, it's been overwhelming. A few days ago, (3/26/16), the very first Oculus Rift was shipped, at the high but not horrifying price of 599 USD.
Immediately, those lucky enough to get their hands on a set were sharing their thoughts. From hardcore gaming community to tech writers, what seemed to be the general consensus is: the headset is awesome, it looks great, you are very much transported to another world, but for now it's only advisable for those early adopters in the gaming world. Everyone, however, agrees it's the beginning of a game changer. I've summarized my findings below.
Some issues with this version:
-Associated hardware is very costly. Will set you back another few thousand USD
-Issues of motion sickness with the headset on haven't fully been resolved
-Even at barely a pound in weight, it leaves marks on your face if worn too long, like ski goggles, maybe not such a big deal
-Isn't "room scale" meaning you're expected to be seated or standing and not move more than a few feet (don't walk around, you'll get injured like me)
-Peripheral vision is limited
-No hand controllers yet. Still interacting with games the same, old fashioned way, even if the experience is different.
-Game installation seems to be annoying and complicated
But the good parts:
-Images are very clear. You can adjust the distance between your eyes to match what yours actually are. If set up correctly, the image is incredibly clear. This is called the interpupilary distance (IPD) and effects your focus on images
-Looking around is smooth sailing. 90-frames-per-second refresh rate is very smooth and you don't get any kind of visual lag that you do with lesser equipment (which is the case with a lot of mobile VR right now)
-Great accessories. Comes with 3D Audio earphones and a controller that seem to do their jobs well
-Doesn't obstruct your mouth so you can eat and drink without taking it off (serious plus for serious gamers or entertainment consumers, though I'm not sure how you'd see what you're eating, until they figure out how to incorporate human sustenance into the view field
For more details and reviews:
Dan Stapleton, IGN
Adi Robertson, The Verge
Geoffrey Fowler, WSJ
On launch games
Oculus as a company has played a huge part of the accelerated widespread acceptance of VR. I have to admit I'm part of this group. VR has been here for a long time, but Facebook's 2014 acquisition of the Kickstarter funded company was an integral part of validating the space. Imagine like you were just doing you, and then one day Leo DiCaprio wants to hang out with you, without any change, you're suddenly more cool and accepted. Same principle of social proofing applies. Everyone loves Facebook, right, even if you don't, you still use it or at the very least know about it. Mark Z know this is the future. He's often said the mind is the next frontier.
Oculus was founded in 2012 by Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe in Irvine, CA. It was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for 2 billion USD.
More on Oculus
VR & AR are for everyone.