VR sounded shit in the 90s
My opinion hasn't changed since.
The much-hyped virtual reality headset Oculus Rift is finally shipping to its first customers this week, and the Facebook-owned company dished out a few of them ahead of time to select publications. The embargo lifted Monday morning and we have waded through tens of thousands of words contained in nine reviews so you don't …
It was a pity they went bk before the 3dfx powered pods and games shipped. The last prototype headset I played with was smaller and more comfortable than any of the new offerings, sadly also uncompleted.
Sadly several decades on Moore's law still hasn't quite got us to 'finished' hardware at an affordable price.
I tried VR in the 90's, I also had access to a DK2 last year for a while and I can tell you that it's a hell of a lot better.
There's times using it when you'll go "bloody hell, this is amazing!", and there's times when you'll wonder "why am I wearing what feels like really heavy ski goggles indoors?", and with each iteration they're moving from the latter to the former.
I'm not sure it'll ever become a truly widespread thing, in the same way that PC gaming itself is a niche, but I think it'll carve out it's place.
If you've not tried the recent generation of VR, give it a go. You'll probably walk away without any desire to get a headset yourself, but you'll almost certainly get enough of a "wow!" moment to understand what everyone's banging on about.
You need some goggles, two LCD screens, and an accelerometer? And after you've paid six hundred bucks for that, you need to pay twice that to get a computer that can drive it fast enough... amazing what people will spend money on.
Mind you, it's obviously a mature technology: the basic stereoscopic view theory was first discussed at the Royal Society a couple of years before photography was invented, round the 1840s.
"You need some goggles, two LCD screens, and an accelerometer? And after you've paid six hundred bucks for that, you need to pay twice that to get a computer that can drive it fast enough... amazing what people will spend money on."
Yeah I can't believe that they needed Facebook's money to develop it at all!
On a related note a car is just four wheels, a steering wheel, a few pedals and an engine, why do people spend so much on *those*?
Just see how disconnected from reality its CEO is:
Luckey argues that virtual reality is a bigger turning point in technology than Apple II, Netscape or Google. VR, he says, is the final major computing platform that's not a transitional step to the next big thing.
Words almost fail me.......
Luckey isn't the CEO.
The question is whether he actually believes the BS he's spouting or whether he is just trying to push the product and create hype. Maybe he knows full well that the product is lacking but needs to keep up the appearances just to appease Zuckerberg and to boost his Oculus/FB share option status.
You want to turn around repeatedly to explore your new virtual world, but as you do, that trailing cord wraps around your legs in the real world. This becomes a distraction from the visual splendor because you can feel the cord looping around your legs, preparing to hogtie you, Gulliver-style.
So, not wanting to end up trussed-up on the floor, you end up self-consciously doing things like turning to the right to look at something, and then you realize that you had better turn to your left to see the next thing, even if it is little further to your right. So you do a 270 degree turn to the left to escape the lariat forming around your legs, or avoid yanking the cord out of your electronics, or pulling the electronics over when the cord doesn't disconnect, all instead of a natural 90 degree turn further to your right to where the next cool visual is.
Also a surprising problem.
1200 x 1080 x 8 x 3 x 90 bits/second is a raw, complertely uncompressed 2.8 Gbit/sec. Surely a local wireless interface with a range of a few feet is completely feasible? (I almost said "trivially").
Why wasn't it designed to be wireless from the start?
Too bad we don't know how to make devices with high resolution displays and hours of battery life. If only we had something like that in our pockets today, it could be used as a model for how Oculus could achieve this.
As for the 2.8 Gbps, 60 GHz wireless can accommodate that at short ranges, but better yet they could compress it so they don't actually need that much bandwidth. Decent real time HEVC compression is a bit too intensive for current PCs, but MPEG4 is more than good enough to cut that data rate requirement by well over 90% without noticeable visual artifacts.
All smartphones have time real MPEG4 decompression and many have real time HEVC decompression. Hell, the last couple iPhones have included real time HEVC compression, which is far more computationally challenging, without any problem.
I think your views on how hot and power hungry MPEG4 decompression is are a decade out of date.
...The Reg hits back with it's usual predictable sneery theme. You really have become the Gogglebox of tech news websites now.
"We're not going to actually write a review about the Oculus Rift (really we're jealous we didn't get sent one), we're going to read other stories about it and sneer at them."
Talk about a snooze-fest; the 5 minutes it took to drag myself through this car crash is time I'll never get back again.
"In short: don't be an idiot and spend $600 on a first-gen [anything]" - a cheaper, sleeker more reliable version will be along in eighteen months.
Unless, of course, you have the so much money that you can afford to spend a bit here and there on novelties. In which case, fair to play you - I'd have spare cash too if I didn't spend it on beer (Augmented Reality?)
Funnily enough, I thought the article eventually homed in on *exactly* the point of this product and then failed to notice.
This product is supposed to be bought by commercial games writers (for whom the price can be called an investment) so that when version 2 (or 3) eventually turns up good enough for Real People to use, there will actually be some decent software for them to buy for it.
The hope of all the players in this game is that the best titles will be written for *their* gizmo, leading to an MS-DOS-style monopoly of VR in the next decade. As venture capitalist punts go, it's not the silliest proposition out there.
Unfair to complain about the wearing over specs comment, far too many of us wear them and it was a serious pia the 1st time round with VR in the 90s. I want a solution for that before diving into VR again.
Also worth noting that every vr device available to preorder recently sold out nearly instantly. Even the lacklustre Rift ;) Just have to hope they don't kill VR all over again with poor launch products.
The extra costs of the Rift (monetary and otherwise) would be justified if its image quality were dramatically better than the Gear’s, but it isn’t. Both are like looking through a screen door.
This is why I'm not parting with £500 (plus, since I have an i3 and GTX960, another £500 for upgrades) - the visual quality doesn't reflect the cost and the field of view isn't really that great either.
Sticking with my Note4 and GearVR for now, which at least allows you to freely rotate 360*, even if it hasn't got the graphical oomph to run Elite Dangerous.
It was in a review of Elite dangerous that I first heard of IR Head Tracking for gaming.
Basically you play on a monitor as per usual, but using some IR lights on your head, and a modified web-cam, you can 'look' around your cockpit. If you're already wearing a gaming headset (or headphones) for audio, then it won't add any significant bulk to your head, and the cost of entry is low, especially if you roll your own:
I haven't tried such a system myself, but one of these days I might just build a gaming PC, play Elite and surrender my social life!
"Basically you play on a monitor as per usual, but using some IR lights on your head, and a modified web-cam, you can 'look' around your cockpit."
One small problem: you have to turn your head to "look sideways" but you have to keep looking at the same spot (your monitor). Not to mention having to keep still if you want to look straight ahead. Doesn't sound like much fun.
>One small problem: you have to turn your head to "look sideways" but you have to keep looking at the same spot (your monitor)
You are quite right, DropBear, I had that thought too. Then I remembered that these PC gamers often have two or three monitors side-by-side, or a very wide monitor with a 'cinema' aspect ratio (extra monitors are fairly inexpensive compared to enthusiast-level GPUs and fancy flight-sim controllers). Also, the IR trackers don't track eyeballs, so there is some margin. Plus, the movement of the gamer's head doesn't have to be translated in a linear fashion to the virtual avatar's head movement.
Like I said, I haven't tried IR head-tracking, but if I became a gaming enthusiast the low cost of entry means I might give it a go.
EDIT: I now see Gordon 10 has confirmed that the head tracking doesn't have to be linear. Hmmm, I wonder if people have tried using it for productivity software and having a very wide virtual desktop... :)
I was very impressed, it is not a fad (this time) and shouldn't be dismissed lightly. Yeah it's expensive and yeah it's still a gen 1 product which everyone knows is buyer beware (apple watch anyone?). If I could afford it I would have one right now and there are compelling experiences on iit (Adrift, Radial G to name a couple).
It's very easy to sneer, which this article proves in spades.
Indeed, most of the reviews are very positive about the hardware, and the concerns voiced are those largely common to most MKI products. Most reviews also say to wait and see, because:
- You can't buy one yet anyway, and won't until the pre-orders have been fulfilled in a couple of months
- No available game yet makes a killer case for VR
- The Rift's handheld motion controllers won't be available til later in the year
- Competing products will be around by the end of the year or sooner (HTC, Sony, Samsung)
- It can only get cheaper
-It's going to be summer time soon, so you should be playing outside!
(okay, the last point is mine)
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