These are the 3 Things That Tell the Future of VR
Virtual reality (VR) headsets, like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive tend to promise that by simply strapping on a rectangular black headset, one can navigate a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean or climb to the top of a snowcapped mountain.
As remarkable as the technology already is, many consider it to be in its early days since such efforts of virtual reality-style in the past have flopped (Nintendo’s Virtual Boy comes to mind). Nevertheless the latest crops of gadgets are found to be more promising.
Below are the main highlights from TIME’s conversation with Frank Azor and Nelson Gonzalez of Alienware on what VR promises.
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Virtual reality will get more physical
Anyone who has tried the HTC Vive knows that it involves some physical activities. The Vive and its two controllers are set with sensors that permit players to swing a virtual golf club or use an imaginary paintbrush.
“The next evolution of VR would be where you participate physically in that VR world,” says Gonzalez. “And not just sitting down; if you’re a quarterback, you actually get to throw a football, and you can interface with the team. So that kind of stuff, it’s there, it’s going to happen.”
“Headsets today are doing an excellent job at catering to your visual senses, and a little bit of audio as well,” said Azor. “Well that’s just two of the senses . . . Once you begin catering to the rest of the senses, like what we feel body-wise, temperature-wise, and smell, the reality factor of virtual reality [becomes] stronger and the virtual piece begins to fade.”
For now, it is yet unclear exactly how and if technologies described Azor will ever takes come to be. However, some companies are giving it a try. Leap Motion, a startup company that launched a motion-sensing camera for computers in 2013, is now building technology for interacting with VR environments without a controller. Another Startup Thalmic Labs also produces an armband capable of controlling electronic devices through gestures that works with the Rift.
VR must be an industry-wide effort
Azor opines that the Oculus Rift most likely will be remembered as the first modern virtual reality headset. But it requires more than just one device to expand the industry in a significant way.
“Everyone rallied around [the PC gaming] industry and now we have what we have today,” he said. “VR is the same type of thing; no one company can solve all of the problems.”
A wireless Rift or Vive won’t happen soon
Virtual reality devices fall in two classes: cheaper, portable devices like the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, and beefier, expensive systems that offer more immersive experiences like the Rift and the Vive. It’s unlikely there will be a high-performance device like the Rift go wireless anytime soon, mostly because wireless technology isn’t advancing at the same pace as VR hardware.
“By the time we solve that, as an industry we’re going to want to give you version two of the product, which is going to become the new benchmark,” Azor said. “Wireless technology is on a different schedule, that’s where the issue comes in . . . The latest and greatest will be wired for a fair amount of time moving forward.”