It seems like Virtual Reality can finally be real. The recent CES 2016 (Consumer Electronics Show) is a proof of that. That is the place where tech companies showcase their latest gadgets or work-in-progress projects. As expected, this year, as in the past few years, Virtual Reality had some exhibitors showcasing the technology. The difference was that this year, big contenders like Oculus Rift, HTC’s VIVE and Playstation VR had actual products ready for consumers. That’s right, no beta versions, no work-in-progress projects, but actual products that can be pre-ordered and delivered this year. Wow!
These three products are not mobile Virtual Reality systems, meaning that they have to be attached to a computer or console. This is different from the current VR-kind-of products out there, for example Google Cardboard (I know cardboard and virtual reality are not words you would expect to use in the same sentence) and Samsung’s Gear VR (powered by Oculus) can be taken everywhere since these are products that you attach to your mobile phone. Those Virtual Reality mobile products deliver sort of Virtual Reality experience but very limited. On the other hand, the Oculus Rift, HTC’s VIVE and Playstation VR , with the processing capabilities of a powerful computing system attached to them offer a far better Virtual Reality experience.
What these companies are showing looks amazing. We still haven’t been able to play with one of these babies, but the content released by the manufacturers looks amazing. With gaming as the main target of these devices, virtual reality promises to be fun. To be fully submerged in a game and control the digital world that surrounds you, is a dream every kid thinks about at least twice a day, or is it just me? If you look at the gaming industry’s history, you realize they are always searching for ways to engage the player more and more with their games. With that in mind, to place you “inside” a game sounds like the ultimate goal.
There is only one downside of these Virtual Reality products: they are not cheap. For example the Oculus Rift comes at a price of $600.00 for the headset, sensor, remote control, Xbox game controller (I know, it’s confusing) and two games. But wait, don’t close your wallet yet, that’s just half the gear you’ll need. Like we said, these products need to be attached to a powerful machine capable of producing all the juice these systems require. For the Oculus Rift that means computers that have a particular video card. If you don’t have such a computer, you’ll have to spend at least an extra $900.00 and that’s after the Oculus Rift discount provided by some computer manufacturers. HTC hasn’t released their system requirements yet, but you can expect a similar price for the VIVE and for the computer powering it. Sony hasn’t released the price of their Playstation VR either, but you can expect it to be lower than the other contenders, as the Playstation system is less advanced. What we do know is that the spark igniting it will be the Playstation 4. If you already own one of these, you will save some money; otherwise prepare the initial $350.00 investment.
Virtual Reality goes beyond games. Virtual Reality could be extremely useful in multiples areas. Schools could include Virtual Reality lessons about almost any topic, companies could use Virtual Reality to achieve even more effective trainings, police could use it in crime investigations, and people who enjoy traveling could go to places they haven’t even imagined.
We hope you are as excited as we are about how Virtual Reality is moving forward. In this world of “alternate” realities there are other interesting technologies like VR’s cousin Augmented Reality (AR), and one that in our humble opinion is more exciting than Virtual Reality, Holographic Reality (for lack of a better term). We will discuss “Holographic Reality” in a future post, in the meantime take a look at what Microsoft is doing in this front.