Virtual Reality Devices for Consumers and Sensory

Virtual Reality Devices for Consumers and Sensory

Consumer-level virtual reality headsets have experienced a spurt of growth since the initial presentation of the Oculus Rift DK1 in 2013. A field that had been quiet for decades on the consumer front saw a huge leap in growth, prompting several tech giants to fund their own headsets to capture Virtual reality capabilities.
As of 2018, we are currently between generations of VR devices. The first generation of virtual reality headsets for consumers has been launched, and companies are in the midst of planning for their next generation. They monitor various trends in the hardware markets to see which direction the wind appears to be blowing in terms of consumers’ purchasing habits.
The first generation set basic expectations in consumers’ minds for quality and price point. Headphones released in the second generation of devices will have to surpass the current generation in these standards for consumers to consider this second generation a success.
You can create a baseline to help you evaluate the next generation of headphones. If you are in the market to buy a virtual reality headset or you are just interested in comparing current and future models, this should help you with your ratings.
“When you make decisions based on first-generation hardware and software adoption, consider who are the drivers of that market. Emerging markets with higher price points, such as virtual reality, often find themselves driven by early adopters who may not be indicative of your actual market.”
Advanced Virtual Reality Devices
Almost all of today’s high-end virtual reality headsets are powered by an external computer. Nearly all high-end devices from current generations offer a room-wide experience, enabling users to navigate physical space and reflect those movements in a virtual reality world. Almost all high-end headphones of current generations work with a pair of motion controllers. All of these devices feature a wide field of view (FOV) and generally higher resolution screens. Most of these first generation devices are connected via a cable to the computer running them.
“The high end consists of headphones like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality, and, to a lesser extent, PlayStation VR. PlayStation VR is a little weird because it doesn’t offer the same room-size experience as other headsets. However, it offers a more premium virtual reality experience than many mid-tier options.”
If you are serious about having an excellent VR consumption experience that includes the best games, highest graphics and apps, then you will probably want one of the headphones that falls within the high-end range. The bigger question may be whether you want to get a model of this generation or withstand the next generation of high-end hardware, all of which come with their own set of notable improvements over current-generation hardware.
Mid-level virtual reality devices
Google Daydream and Gear VR are the main mid-tier competitors for first-generation headphones. Both require an Android device with appropriate specifications to run the VR experience. Their field of view is slightly lower than that of high-end headphones, and they have a slower refresh rate, so screen images refresh fewer times per second.
Both come with a single motion controller that offers three degrees of freedom of movement, loosely tracking the motion of the controller in space (but not fully tracking). It does not provide any room-wide experience or track user position outside of head rotation and orientation.

Three degrees of freedom (3DoF) with respect to VR headset controllers typically means the controller has only rotational tracking. It is basically paired with the position of your headphone. Unlike high-end headphones like HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, if you leave your console on the ground and walk away from it while wearing these 3D headphones, the console won’t maintain its position in 3D space.
If you’re interested in exploring simple VR implementations, have a supported Android device currently, and don’t want to spend what it costs to get a high-end device, these mid-tier devices can be a good entry-point experience for VR consumption. Your consumption options will be more limited at this intermediate level, but a lot of apps target this level of experience.
Low quality virtual reality devices
Google Cardboard and its variants occupy the current bottom line of the VR headset market. Like mid-level virtual reality headsets, all Google Cardboard experiences are powered by a separate mobile device, such as a smartphone. Unlike mid-level experiences, however, Google Cardboard experiences can be played on many different mobile devices including low-end devices.
Any manufacturer can produce a Google Cardboard Viewer by following the Cardboard specification provided by Google. This flexibility has resulted in many form factors. The one thing these devices have in common is that they all work via a separate mobile device, they all have similar lenses, and almost all rely on a single button on the headset for any interaction within the virtual world. The limited interaction that Google Cardboard offers limits it to being little more than a virtual reality “viewer”, providing users with a much more passive consumption experience than mid-range and high-end headphones.
Google Cardboard might be a good entry point if you only have a passing interest in virtual reality, don’t have an Android device, and aren’t willing to invest in a more immersive experience. Although Cardboard is known for its low cost, the virtual reality experience it offers pales in comparison to the higher-level or mid-level experiences. Your consumption options will be limited at this level. The hardware itself determines what can be played in Google Cardboard, and many content creators prefer creating higher-level experiences.
Hint
There is a market for almost any type of VR headset. What Cardboard may lack in features, it may make up for in price or availability. Providing elementary school students a classroom with a Google Cardboard experience may be much more acceptable than providing them with all the high-end headphones. The Cardboard experience may not be able to match the immersiveness of high-end headphones, but you may find that Google Cardboard is best suited to your specific consumer needs.