back to article Reg man straps on Facebook's new VR goggles, feels sullied by the experience

Facebook today announced the availability of the Oculus Go, a US$199 virtual reality headset it revealed in October 2017. I had the chance to play around with the headset for a few minutes in the press room at the company's F8 conference on Tuesday, to get a sense of the device ahead of a proper assessment. My first impression …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Joint jaunt into fantasy land

    I could see how a joint jaunt into fantasy land might be appealing – it's imitation community.

    Hmm... launched on the same date as the F***book dating app.

    Is it just the old cynic in me...

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: . launched on the same date as the Facebook dating app

      Not significant unless they are releasing the gloves, mouth, chest and neither regions accessories?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teledildonics

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: . launched on the same date as the Facebook dating app

        Red Dwarf had that covered:

        reddwarf.wikia.com/wiki/Groinal_Attachment?file=Tikka.jpg

        1. Flakk

          Re: . launched on the same date as the Facebook dating app

          Red Dwarf had that covered

          U = BTL

    2. Dave Bell

      Re: Joint jaunt into fantasy land

      That sort of activity has been around a long time. It's different when all you have is text - one-handed typing is a problem - but two people interacting doesn't depend on VR.

      The one-handed typing problem might be why they only give you one controller.

      They had pairs of hand controllers working with the PS3, and the PS4 has a headset as well, hardly surprising since the Oculus Rift project started out in 2012. Oculus might do some things better but it's the apps it has which will matter more.

      I think I shall stick to text.

    3. macjules Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Joint jaunt into fantasy land

      Is it just the old cynic in me..

      No, not at all. I suspect that the sole purpose of the new goggles is that they can now grab your retina information as well as you and your family's entire online social media history,

      I am afraid that reality is getting far to close to Charlie Brooker's programme ideas for my liking.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not VR

    In the same way that daydreamVR samsungVR and other cheapo solutions aren't really VR either.

    All this will achieve is to turn people off from VR, as they assume it's representative of real VR (Playstation VR, Vive, full ocolus).

    It's like vowing never to buy an audi R8, as you had a ride in a Seat Ibiza once and it was rubbish...

    To make matters worse, the price of this is like £50 less than a proper VR - PSVR (ok, I get you need a PS4, but with 80m sold, the likelihood is that you will)

    1. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: Not VR

      I'd modify that slightly...

      It's like vowing to never buy an Audi R8 because you once went in a Audi R3 and the dealer promised you it was the most fun you could have in a car but at the fraction of the price.

      The point is that in both markets, the expensive option is great, but the marketing droids can't bring themselves to describe the cheaper version in any less superlative terms.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Not VR

        I think VR is in the same fix as AI and Autonomous Vehicles, the idea is there, the marketing droids are all over it but the actuality for the tech has a way to go.

        Virtual Reality to me is still HoloSuites and Laser powered doctors.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Nice to hear an un-hypgasm-filled account

    VR in general has always been something I don't care about and don't really believe in. For the past three decades, I have walked the graphics card treadmill powered by the late 3Dfx, AMD and Nvidia. I have gone from Voodoo 2 to GeForce GTX 980 Ti, passing through a slew of GeForce cards, Radeon 9800 and HD 5870.

    I have witnessed screen sizes go from 14" to 19" CRTs, then TFT from 19" to 28" widescreen. Pixel amounts have gone from 1024 x 768 native, to the monster I have now at 3840 x 2160. I have seen game visuals go from pixellated 3D wireframe to full, lush real-time images that are today better than the game cutscenes we had twenty years ago.

    And out comes VR, apparently with the same graphics quality we had twenty years ago, the same in-world limitations of a Super Nintendo, and I'm supposed to forget that because I'm "in" the world ?

    When I play Minecraft I'm "in" the world as well. When I play 7 Days you can bet your bum I'm in the world, and ears alert to hear the zombies sneaking up behind me.

    VR gives me nothing I don't have already and having a sore neck is not worth the feeble world it offers. The day 7 Days runs in VR in the same resolution and level of realism, then call me. I might give it a try.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice to hear an un-hypgasm-filled account

      Indeed. Just another example of the tech sector developing and touting what it thinks is a fab idea, without actually considering whether there is the potential to make a properly working product, and whether there's a substantial market willing to pay.

      Because of the disconnect between the body's physical senses and any VR environment, I'm not sure VR will ever work to an acceptable degree, no matter how lush the graphics, smooth the interface, and easy to use the equipment. If, one day, technology can manipulate our senses with the sensation of movement, or heat and cold, or smells, touch and even pain, then maybe by then the interface, physics and graphics will give us something interesting. I'll suggest we call that system "Better Than Life", and should expect it to be available for general release around the year 2350.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the disconnect between the body's physical senses and any VR environment,

        One thing to remember is that e.g. for 3D displays, different people vary significantly in terms of how satisfactory they find them; and I presume that the same holds for VR. Even if, for example, only a few percent of people find VR technology useful (or tolerable), that may still be enough numbers for it to become a viable market. I'm not sure I'll be buying into it, but my preference is not likely to be terribly indicative of the wider situation.

      2. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Nice to hear an un-hypgasm-filled account

        "1903: Kitty Hawk, 1909: Bleriot crosses Channel

        Just another example of engineers doing something that won't ever have practical applications."

        Sometimes it's worth thinking in terms of potential, esp when there are no obvious theoretical barriers to something improving. The 20th century has had a long run of quick progress from ho-hum beginnings (general AI and fusion being exceptions).

        I have yet to even try a VR headset, but mostly because none of the games - and I am a gamer - feel like they'd be more than gimmicks.

        My interest would actually be more in data representation/coding/visualisation. Neuromancer, not Ready Player One.

        No obligation to cheer Oculus Go. But moving on to dismiss the whole technology's potential seems rather premature.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Nice to hear an un-hypgasm-filled account

          try elite dangerous in VR, it truely changes the game. Look around whilst fuel scooping or try not to vomit when supercharging in a neutron star. Even docking is substantially better in vr.

        2. Baldrickk Silver badge

          "1903: Kitty Hawk, 1909: Bleriot crosses Channel

          Up in the loft last night, I came across a first edition book by Arthur C Clarke - The Exploration of the Moon.

          In another box, I found a special edition of Life Magazine - "To the moon and back" which was about Apollo 11

          The time between these publications was only 15 years...

    2. mrweekender

      Re: Nice to hear an un-hypgasm-filled account

      HTC Vive Pro...

    3. Rob Fisher

      Re: Nice to hear an un-hypgasm-filled account

      "I don't care"... "VR gives me nothing"... "same graphics quality we had twenty years ago"

      It's true it's a bit over-hyped and early days. But for certain games VR is a game-changer. Having played Elite Dangerous in VR there is no turning back for me (and with a good card the graphics are dialed down one notch at most).

      I hope it can stick around despite a lack of mass-market appeal for long enough to get there.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Holmes

    For the majority of people

    This is still an answer waiting for a viable question.

    Sherlock because he could always see beyond the end of his nose (except when he couldn't naturally)

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: For the majority of people

      Watching movies?

      Crazy thing is our wives have this strange idea that nothing, including when a bloke wants to devote his whole attention to a good film, is more important than she is. <shakes head in disbelief>

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: For the majority of people

        I'll up that: watching movies while flying economy.

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: For the majority of people

          RE: "watching movies while flying economy"

          Watching first class while flying economy

    2. Citizens untied

      Re: For the majority of people

      Exactly. Does it really seem likely that Facebook would understand reality enough to simulate it properly, or are they better at defining a reality they can simulate.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tech firms are putting huge resources into VR/AR at the expense of everything else

    This is coming at the expense of firms core products! Example: Take high quality game engine tech or Fortnite / Unreal Engine, as its flavor of the month. If you go to Epic's forums and follow threads for a while, there are 100's of outstanding mid to high-priority bugs. Then there's 1000's of wishlist threads going unanswered as well.

    Yet even CEO Tim Sweeney says VR/AR has to go through at least 2 or more evolutionary leaps and is 1-2 decades away from more mainstream adoption. So is this obsession with VR/AR today some kind of Zombie Virus??? Is it going to subside anytime soon.... In short, its not just Facebook. Oh well, Sillycon Valley and all that...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Even CEO Tim Sweeney says VR/AR is 1-2 decades away'

      http://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/interviews/epics-tim-sweeney-on-vr-and-the-future-of-civilization-w459561

      http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/292573/For_Tim_Sweeney_advancing_Epic_means_racing_into_AR_and_VR.php

      https://venturebeat.com/2017/08/30/game-boss-interview-epics-tim-sweeney-on-blockchain-digital-humans-and-fortnite/view-all/

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Tech firms are putting huge resources into VR/AR at the expense of everything else

      Ten to twenty years from mainstream adoption... that's such a long time frame that I feel that maybe some nuance has been lost from Mr Sweeny's context. Did he mean mainstream like a PlayStation ( common enough) or mainstream like a smartphone (near ubiquitous)? Many of the technological pieces are around two years away and are being developed for other applications (such as Micro LED displays, light-based WiFi etc)

      Anyway, outside of Silicon Valley here in my part of England, there's some gentle but genuine interest in VR from some of the people who already have games consoles... a gentle interest in a 'wait and see' kind of a way. And just the other night I tried a Google Cardboard demo with a non-gamer (other than Scrabble in her iPhone) and she enjoyed it - in a way that I've seen the Nintendo Wii be fun in mixed company.

      Tl;dr: Some hype, not purely hype.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Tech firms are putting huge resources into VR/AR at the expense of everything else

        Hehe, you supplied the links before I asked for them, cheers AC!

        Right oh, to clarify then, Sweeney by 'mainstream' is talking about everyone having a lightweight pair of VR glasses powered by a smartphone-sized brick in their pocket of roughly equivilent power to today's PC desktop, and a dozen years is how he's extrapolating Moore's Law to have that happen within reasonable power restraints.

        1. Dave Bell

          Re: Tech firms are putting huge resources into VR/AR at the expense of everything else

          That's essentially the level of VR tech in the Charles Stross novel "Halting State", more focused on overlays on the real world, though the bank robbery by a band of orcs with a dragon is wholly in VR. I enjoyed the book, and it's about the people, more than the technology.

    3. mrweekender

      Re: Tech firms are putting huge resources into VR/AR at the expense of everything else

      Tim Sweeney is talking out of his arse...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tech firms are putting huge resources into VR/AR at the expense of everything else

        "Tim Sweeney is talking out of his arse"

        Real or virtual?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    V2 will have eye tracking so they can charge extra for the ads you watch and also profile you. V5 will have mind reading/writing as standard. V12 will be an implant from birth. V13 will be a replacement for V12 as that turned nearly everyone into zombies who did nothing but check social media all day long and share weather forecasts, their dietary habits and stoked their own egos with inane posts. Wait, are we sure we aren't already here?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Wait, are we sure we aren't already here?

      I would have hoped The Real World would have a better resolution...

      1. Allonymous Coward
        Linux

        Re: Wait, are we sure we aren't already here?

        Obligatory non-xkcd ref:

        http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20000615

        1. caffeine addict Silver badge

          Re: Wait, are we sure we aren't already here?

          People still read UserFriendly?

          *checks date*

          Oh. Never mind...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Call me when sensor gloves allow you to manipulate any represented object with your hands and receive the appropriate haptic feedback to simulate the sense of touch.

    Ring. Ring. Hi Reg. This is AC here. If you get Gloveone/ Avatar VR and Leap Motion, you can manipulate of VR object with your hands with haptic feedback. Here's a pdf with the details.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      If you get Gloveone/ Avatar VR and Leap Motion

      And if I get wings grafted to my back I can fly to Cancun.

      Let's keep our imaginary realities within the bounds of believability here, eh?

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Alien

    This explains "2001: A Space Odyssey"

    After the terror tunnel of multicolored marketing hype, Dave Bowman finally arrives in the Hotel Suite of VR. It's not all what it was meant to be, and soon he feels old and confused and dizzy. Finally lying down for a nap, his most earnest whish is to return to 2-D land of the black monolith. Having done so, he feels reborn.

    THE END!

  9. James 51 Silver badge

    I have a gear vr but the first time I tried it, it cracked the tempered glass protector on my screen. Finally got round to replacing the protector so the gear is going on the shelf till I don't need my S6 anymore and it can live in there. I'd like to know if you can side load your own content and watch it (for the stuff Netflix doesn't have or the holiday snaps and movies). Netflix was my main use, tried minecraft which was good but graphics were notable worse than my xbox one and it would over heat after about 30 mins.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      You can side-load 2D and 3D movies to phones for use with VR headsets.

      The following link may help. I haven't tried it myself:

      http://i-loveshare.com/rip-3d-blu-ray-to-google-daydream-vr/

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Erm, sideloading movies? There's plenty of apps for Daydream and Cardboard that will play movies that are on your phone. No need for "sideloading". Daydream compatible phones even come with YouTube VR, and as was mentioned, Netflix VR.

  10. Tony Paulazzo

    Since you've used the Rift how about a paragraph on the difference in optics and resolution, SDE and godrays, is it $200 better? You talk about the weight, I'm guessing (since you neglected to say) it was heavier than its sibling, the Rift. Watching Netflix / 3D films at imax size with HD resolution or still suffering from pixel envy*?

    What about the inbuilt sound, good or bad, 3D positional or stereo? FOV? Comfort?

    * Guessing you couldn't answer that with the brief chance you got to play it.

    1. Jan 0

      @Tony Paulazzo: The Rift suffers from underwhelming resolution. I've only spent a 15 - 20 minutes in a Rift environment, but I kept getting distracted by the pixels. Reality doesn't appear pixellated, even though its mediated via discrete rod and cone cells. Current technology just can't provide visual VR, let alone tactile, kinetic, olfactory, etc. VR.

      1. TheGreatCabbage

        Windows Mixed Reality has a good enough resolution that it's not distracting, and I sometimes watch films in it. I can't speak for the Rift CV1, but it does have slightly worse resolution.

  11. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Windows

    Useable content?

    Taking on board the comment about tactile feedback, which seems pretty reasonable. Noting also the hype for 3D TV and (as far as I know) still virtually bugger all content and the latest TVs not even bothering.

    What application would encourage me to buy a setup? Let us assume that I can get the whole setup including gloves for under £100. Accept that I am not a gamer and unlikely to be in the future.

    I spend some time shopping on line for shiny and essentials. I would be interested in being able to pick up and handle objects instead of just looking at photos. I would also be interested in VR tours of houses for sale. There was a brief trend for virtual tours (that is, a video instead of still photographs) but I haven't seen any recently. I would love a VR version of Google Street View with intuitive controls. I could even see a VR version of, say, an OS map which translates contours into 3D rendering so you can match it to the real world around you; that would be really cool if you could use a camera and 3D goggles to synchronise the map with the real world to confirm your exact position.

    All of this, of course, relies on content providers investing in the tools to build the VR environment. Unless these tools are very cheap then the content will not be there. Without the content the users won't buy the kit. Catch22 again.

    There is a final proviso; the VR has to work without inducing nausea. This may rule it out for me anyway because I can't watch a 3D film without developing massive motion sickness as my eyes argue with my inner ear. Perhaps this is one reason 3D TV never really took off?

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Useable content?

      "I would love a VR version of Google Street View with intuitive controls."

      Googles Street View app works fine in Google Daydream.

      I've been working on rendering OpenStreetMap in an OpenSim based virtual world, and also on adding VR abilities to an OpenSim viewer. You feed in latitude and longitude, it renders that part of the world. Wouldn't be hard to feed it your current GPS coordinates.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Useable content?

        @onefang: Pray do tell more! I've always dreamed about looking at all the streets (and buildings...) I mapped in glorious 1st person 3D (maybe VR, if I can get it to run on a phone - hey, I'm cheap!) instead of the best-case aerial 2.5D online renders... Kendzi3D is not for loading a city into after all.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Useable content?

          "@onefang: Pray do tell more!"

          Well, since you asked...

          I had long been involved in Second Life / OpenSim. The Second Life viewer was open sourced long ago, and as is typical with crap code, lots of people forked it. The Second Life server was never open sourced, so some people wrote a clean room implementation of the server called OpenSim, which is open source. Almost as crap, and people have forked it. Some company hired me to work on their custom viewer. Some other company hired me as their long term viewer developer, and I also helped run their OpenSim based grid.

          With that experience under my belt, yet another company eventually hired me to add Oculus Rift support to their custom OpenSim viewer. This was before Oculus Rift was released to consumers, so I bought a Rift DK2 and ported the Rift code from the CtlAltStudio viewer to this companies custom viewer, which I recall was largely based on the Imprudence viewer. I understand at a trade show Angela Merkel submitted to the experience of my VR code and didn't throw up.

          Someone wrote a viewer for Android, which I believe now supports Google Cardboard or Daydream, I've not tried it.

          Finally we get to the interesting bit. The local city councilor, being the only person I had ever voted for that actually won, got into a discussion with me at a protest he had organised. I mentioned the above things to him, or some of them. He often uses Google Street View to show people various things around his ward, especially planned changes. He was interested in taking this to the third dimension, and adding his own stuff. So I dragged my Oculus Rift development system to his office, gave them a demo, and we made plans. I was part way through a from the ground up rewrite of Imprudence viewer and OpenSim, since the original code bases are pure unadulterated crap, but that project was no where near ready for this job. He would have preferred a web based option, but there was no mature open source solution for that. So we could wait a few years for the code to be ready, or go with stuff that works now. Who knows, in a few years time he may no longer be a city councilor, so we went with the later option.

          So the plan was to use various bits of data, including OpenStreetMaps, to build an OpenSim based grid that replicates the city ward he is responsible for, and to script various bits of the city so that clicking on them switches between existing city and planned city. Either running a viewer on his laptop, or an Oculus Rift, or the Android viewer on a phone, to show the things he was using Street View for. Also letting people have guest accounts, so they can wander around on their own.

          I wrote a Lua script to collect elevation data from here, overhead photos from there, building data from elsewhere, and build a small database of data and textures, to be read by a C# OpenSim module & LSL script I wrote that created that section of our city in his grid. Second Life / OpenSim avatars are generally giants, so I scaled things down to be life sized, and even spent a lot of time walking around the virtual / real city with stop watch / tape measure in hand, to keep it real. Basically you stand in an empty grid, enter longitude / latitude for the part of the world you are interested in, watch as the world grows around you, then go for a wander.

          The big problem was the building data. OpenStreetMaps has protocols for including building shapes in it's database, but since it crowd sources its data, we had to rely on the crowd to source the data. No one had added any building data to our part of the world. The councilor wasn't able to find a city council source of that info that I could use. So I have created an OpenSim grid that replicated our local council ward, with accurate elevations, reasonably detailed photos of the ground and building roofs, but no actual buildings. sigh

          I should dump this project in my GitHub account some day, and find a part of the world with building data so I can finish it. Alas the councilor is stuck with Google Street View for now.

          Ya had to ask, didn't ya.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: Useable content?

            Well, basic OSM building data is just that, basic - lotsa white cubes, some with height data if you're lucky - and last time I checked true 3D modelling was existent but hella scarce, primitive but fiendishly complex / easy to get horribly wrong and somewhat frowned upon as data being stored in OSM. I've only ever seen f4map.com and osmbuildings.org (screwing up roofs like nobody's business) even trying to make anything of this at all, and no true first person offline render clients (or games). Anyway, thanks for the detailed account...

  12. handleoclast

    Battlezone

    Remember Battlezone with the 3D wireframe tanks? I used to be quite good at that. I far prefer (real) pinball, but sometimes in a pub you have to take what you can get.

    I found a Battlezone app for Android. Instead of on-screen touch controls, you turned your tank by turning yourself and the motion sensors figured out which direction you were facing. It lasted all of 10 seconds before I deleted it. It was about as sensible as operating a flight simulator by flapping your arms like wings. Too much fucking effort. If I wanted exercise I'd walk away from the computer.

    There are valid applications for VR, such as modelling cars you can walk around and inspect to help car designers. For most of us, though, it is (and always will be) expensive, useless crap. It's not even a solution seeking a problem, it's a problem seeking a solution.

    1. BeardyOldUnixGit

      Re: Battlezone

      Wanna *play* Battlezone with the 3D wireframe tanks? Rebellion bought the license and made a Playstation VR version (now on PC also since a while back). It has a Classic Atari Battlezone mode, which can be played either with "modern" strafing hovertank controls or the old tank track controls.

      It's pretty sweet, and as of yesterday you can play it flat (non-VR) also.

      I mean, there's a web version somewhere if you look for it, but it requires flash, and buying a PSVR rig might be cheaper than what flash could do to your system :-)

      Expensive - moderately. Useless - who cares? Fun - absolutely. Sturgeon's law applies as always, but as time goes by there's more and more stuff in the remaining 10%

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Battlezone

        "it requires flash"

        Naaaah, no need for fishy stuff like that - choose your own perfectly up-and-up Speccy emulator and yank the game from WoS... ;)

    2. onefang Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Battlezone

      Sitting in an office chair and swiveling is too much fucking effort?

      1. handleoclast

        Re: Battlezone

        Sitting in an office chair and swiveling is too much fucking effort?

        Yes. First, I'd have had to get up and go to the swivel chair. Second, it's still too much fucking effort in a swivel chair. Third, it's no fucking good if you want to play something while you're on the train.

        One day, if those who know you let you live that long, you'll find out what it's like to become old and decrepit.

  13. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    VR application...

    Don't tell anyone but I have this secret lab where I'm currently trying to recreate dinosaurs (yes really!!!) from their DNA that I'm harvesting from Jurassic era mosquito's that have been fossilised and encased in amber. Yes, it's an original idea that I'm trying to patent. Think theme park... think sandwich boxes and merchandising yes??? I'm not sure there are any downsides to it.

    I was thinking of using Amber Rudd to fill in the DNA gaps; and I was thinking of using VR and supercomputers to simulate graphically some of the gene splicing elements...

    Thoughts? Any offers of investment welcome also.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: VR application...

      "Amber Rudd to fill in the DNA gaps"

      Well, there is some debate over whether dinosaurs were cold blooded, but they certainly weren't heartless, so that approach might need some work. Just like Amber, now she's jobless.

  14. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Glasses

    Why do people spend thousands on laser eye surgery?

    Why do people wear contact lenses?

    Why did Google Glass fail?

    Why did 3D TV never really take off?

    Because people don't like wearing glasses.

    So why do these companies think that strapping something that's many times heavier than than glasses to your face will be massively popular?

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Glasses

      I'm going to guess because it's easier than fitting a plug into your spine like in The Matrix.

      Let's be honest, if that (or the squishy things in Existenz) were on the table, a hell of a lot of us would be all over them.

      For myself, I bought a Vive. It gets less use than I'd like, but DCS World is awesome in it. Just being able to look over your shoulder, or being able to peer down from the edge of the cockpit rather than having your POV swivel around a totally fixed point is absolutely great. Plug in the old Thrustmaster and you don't need to worry about hand tracking.

      It really is very good for some things.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Glasses

        Existenz wasn't a VR commercial, it was a warning. Did we really learn nothing from it? As soon as perfect, indistinguishable simulation is possible you can no longer tell whether you've really ever exited it - a point somewhat amusingly also made much, much earlier by Lem himself in Cyberiad (never push the "Mona Lisa" button!).

  15. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

    Corporate tool?

    Take a decent-ish VR headset and mock up a fairly simple VR scenario. Then, instead of buying your techie or coder multiple screens and wondering where to put them, just buy them this VR set-up which models multiple windows floating in space (or whatever) around them, easily moved with some form of simple haptic interface, all set at an easy focus distance.

    There you have a next-generation coding environment, and one which allows some interaction with other team members, wherever they may be.

    If you want to schedule a team meeting, do so in a virtual space of some form. Your team members then don't have to physically turn up, and can mostly work from home.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Corporate tool?

      Then, instead of buying your techie or coder multiple screens and wondering where to put them, just buy them this VR set-up which models multiple windows floating in space (or whatever) around them

      No-go at the mo...

      The resolution on a Vive (for "decent-ish") is too low for detailed displays in a virtual environment, and until we get eye-tracking well-established, there's no way to crank up the resolution without adding the kind of rendering hardware that would make Crysis buttery-smooth.

      Not to say it'll never happen, but it's way beyond the current generation of hardware. And the current generation of hardware is way beyond the old Virtuality kit from "days of yore".

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Corporate tool?

        You are only half right. Sure the Vive and the Rift have somewhat low resolution, but for example a Moto Z in a Daydream has significantly higher resolution. Other companies are working on even higher resolutions, with kit coming Real Soon Now. So getting things up to scratch for virtual monitors isn't that far away, and doesn't need that big a graphics rig.

        I recall there's even software for doing this already.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Corporate tool?

          but for example a Moto Z in a Daydream has significantly higher resolution

          Then you're hammering against fill rates. I guess for a virtual desktop environment you don't care a whole lot about polygon counts, as the "screens" will effectively be two triangles with a high-res texture map applied. If the whole lot ends up looking like Job Simulator then so much the better - you can have people work without realising they should get paid for it. I'll not take my car to that workshop though... :)

          You know, it's crazy but it might just work!

  16. Milton Silver badge

    Ouch

    "We're a long way from Ready Player One or Snow Crash."

    That's a bit like saying "We're a far cry from Dan Brown or Shakespeare"—who on earth would mention them in the same sentence? It's a good job Stephenson is still alive else he'd be spinning in his grave to hear Snow Crash mentioned in the same breath as RPO, which was intermittently entertaining, puerile, derivative, stilted and shallow (and that's just the book). Snow Crash was startling, original, imaginative, very clever and well-written. Really, not much comparison, not even for the latest Generation Stupid.

    As for VR, although the hype-vs-reality ratio is similar to 3D, I don't expect it to die in the same way 3D did.

    First, there is vast room for improvement, and clear signs that this will happen. The size and weight of the devices will shrink; their performance and nausea-inducing weaknesses will gradually be overcome.

    Second, even outside of entertainment, there are many compelling use cases, ranging right the way from remote surgery to combat training, and they will drive uptake and evolution even if gaming doesn't.

    While I don't think VR is going to be fit for major mainstream uptake for at least five years and possibly 10, I'm sure it will happen. The key hurdle, IMHO, is making the experience truly comfortable—which it plainly is not—for body, eyes and brain, and perhaps also (where gaming and stuff like remote meetings are concerned) the truly realistic integration of other people.

    When your VR set is supremely easy to wear, and your colleagues / team-mates are recognisably and fondly themselves, not just stutterly-rendered orcs with dodgy fangs ... then VR will have truly arrived.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Ouch

      Snow Crash was very good, but not really startling, original, nor imaginative. The likes of Gibson, Sterling, and Effinger were all a lot better at cyberpunk.

  17. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
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    Exclusive VR Interview

    The Register can interview a VR Tim Cook

  18. GBE

    The virtual weather forcast for tomorrow is...

    mostly tedious, with intermittent stabs of queasiness.

    Brilliant line, that.

    I don't really "get" 3D films either. Mostly they're just annoying (at least they don't make me physically ill they they do some people). The only 3D film I've seen that I thought actually benefited from the extra "D" was Coraline.

  19. TheGreatCabbage

    While it will certainly suit some people, the Oculus Go seems a bit of a gimmick at that price. For £200 you can get a barely used WMR headset from ebay, which will run SteamVR games and has 2 controllers. It's also got a great resolution, but admittedly the optics will be worse than the Go.

    I just couldn't justify buying the Go for that price, given that it's so limited in purpose. It seems like something that will be rarely used after the first few weeks.

  20. HoggertyHog

    I remember hanging outside the local computer store as a kid watching aviator on the BBC micro through the window and thinking AWESOME want: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqGcL5QW97o

    I now have a proper virtual reality suite at home which my friends come and enjoy - its called a garden

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: aviator on the BBC micro

      Spitfires!

      Bridges!

      Aliens!

      What more do you need?

  21. Baldrickk Silver badge

    I would like a VR headset

    Watching and waiting right now, would have bought a Vive back when they were first released, but at the time I was spending 90% of my time away from home.

    The Vive Pro seems like the biggest change was the price. An original Vive or Rift is an option, but there are some interesting things coming up, not least the new LG headset which is supposed to be shown off later this month - and the gossip on that one is substantial. Supposedly, we are looking at a partnership with Google with 5k displays per eye and foveated rendering.

    Also in the near future (but not quite as close) NVidia are working on new graphics pipelines (I'm sure AMD are too) allowing for real-time raytracing and asyncronous updates of displays (you've seen the real-time Unreal ray-tracing demos released recently right?)

    Lots to look forward too

    I don't think I'll be after a Go or the vive equivalent though. Lower quality visuals, lack of proper controllers and 6DOF tracking is a turn-off.

  22. DropBear Silver badge

    None of the loudly advertised "killer features" will propel VR into mainstream. You know what will, assuming the more bothersome issues get sorted out at some point...? Its ability to isolate us from the world around us.

    Decry it all you will (and I'm not advocating here), but we already try shutting out as much of everyone and everything else as we can - we prefer to conduct transactions directly with machines if a messy contact with a human operator can be avoided, travel individually if we can afford to eschew mass transit or the streets, watch our ultra-wide-screens at home if not mingling with the hoi polloi in the multiplex is an option. When was the last time you held eye contact with someone who wasn't your boss or employee...? Do you enjoy sitting in crowded waiting rooms...? Don't bother answering that...

    We do this both literally with people and things and metaphorically, congregating in our daily little echo chambers isolating us from anything we don't want to hear - VR is happy to help with both. No, we're not quite at Clarke levels of finding in-person contact repugnant - but we're getting there. And like headphones, VR does a jolly good job of keeping them all out while simultaneously broadcasting "leave me alone!", only even much more so.

    Yes, right now it's a bit like wearing giant armour-plated over-ear cans as far as convenience goes, but that will get better eventually - not in the next decade or two, no. We're pretty much at the limit of what we can do tech-wise which is why there is no - nor can be - much apparent progress any time soon. We don't seem to be able to make stamp-sized 4K displays, any more than manage to mass-produce any large screen that isn't an LCD panel for over a decade now, no matter what the glitzy CES demos would have you believe year after year. But VR will get there, eventually. Just in time to help us put the finishing touches on our titanium-clad walls. And trying to fight it will work about as well as it did trying to steer clear of everything Orwell's 1984 predicted. Human nature. Against the wind, piss you can't...

  23. heynownow

    After having spent 3+ months with the Go, the best use for regular folks I can safely say is 3D movies and VR Porn. For me it was being able to develop a 360 video for it, for a trade show and making $$$. I'm now enjoying making my own content for it on Unreal, which I eventually intend to sell custom corporate branded experiences as marketing gimmicks to Agencies and their clients. Just waiting for Vulkan support to go next level.

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