Facebook declared a virtual reality war this week with the announcement that it has purchased Oculus and their Rift VR headset for $2 billion in cash and shares. With Sony recently announcing its Project Morpheus VR headset for the PS4 the scene has been set for the battle to control virtual reality.
Taking 3D to the extreme the latest generation VR headsets are able to immerse you in an experience so deeply that it will make you weak at the knees. Unlike 3D glasses the Rift and Morpheus fill your vision and are interactive, your movements and actions are also part of the virtual world it takes you too. Seriously this shit will make you fall over and reach for the barf bag it’s so intense.
Presented for your viewing pleasure is a specially prepared selection of VR videos. The reaction to Oculus videos are plain hilarious, while the game demo’s are just plain impressive. Sit back, relax and let the VR headset do all the work for you.
Both Sony and Oculus have taken the worlds imagination by storm but sadly neither VR headset has a solid release date, price or consumer product. The only evidence of an impending release is the fact that the best VR game in the works EVE:Valkyrie is set for a 2014 release, a little pointless without hardware.
Gaming is going to be a massive market for both VR headsets, combine today’s incredibly detailed graphics engines with the immersive experience of VR and you have an entirely new way to get lost in your favourite gaming worlds.
Sony’s Project Morpheus headset has been demonstrated with a number of custom written games that take advantage of the headset. Eve:Valkyrie which will be available for both is definitely the highlight of the first generation of VR game, adrenaline inducing multi-player space battles have never looked so incredible. Here at Highpants we want to see Gran Tourismo using the headset.
Oculus being a PC based device has been tested with Skyrim, Team Fortress and many many other big name games. There’s even a mod that should allow most Steam games to work on the Rift headset. Being a much more open development platform anyone can jump on board right now, slam down $350 smackaroos and the Rift DK2 is yours. Running mods, scripts and generally tinkering is the order of the day for Rift users at the moment, still the results are nothing short of spectacular.
The other killer app for VR could will be immersive tele-presence, especially when used in a social media context, a new way to meet and share with people? Check out the video ‘Using the Oculus Rift to enter the body of another’, it’s already being tested. Or perhaps allowing anyone to see the world through another’s eyes; be your favourite celebrity for a day. Share your pain with other people or develop a whole new way to tell a story. Could VR be the new reality TV?
The pairing of Facebook and Oculus may have many saying that Oculus Rift is now a Facebook accessory but it could work out very well for Oculus. With the reach and finances of Facebook behind them the competition from Sony seems a little less daunting.
Technologically both VR headsets are very similar; the Sony headset is hands down the winner when it comes to style and design however. Sleek and Tron like when compared to the boxy Rift headset. Both use 960 x 1060 displays, one for each eye, along with gyroscopes and an accelerometer to detect movement.
The Project Morpheus system also integrates the Sony Eye cameras to track the player’s movements along with the other Sony controllers. This gives Project Morpheus the ability to track the player through 360 degrees of movement.
Is VR ready for prime time, ready for that first killer app to appear? Gaming is just the tip of the iceberg, the obvious answer. Social media via VR? Now that has people thinking, scratching their heads wondering how the hell that would work. VR has your time come or are we all just dreaming?
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Sony Project Morpheus Images
Oculus Rift Images