Virtual Reality: The Hype is Real This Time, Promise!

Virtual Reality is all the rage nowadays, but this isn’t the first time the Virtual Reality Hype wave has spread across the world. Man has tried to create the ultimate VR experience back since the 50s, and philosophers and authors have described VR experiences hundreds of years earlier still. So is the hype real this time? Is it finally the year of the Virtual Reality Headset?

Early devices were often stationary, requiring large amounts of equipment to use. Pictured above (left: Sensorama, right: Nintendo Virtual boy) are two stationary attempts from the 1950s and 1990s respectively. The Virtual Boy with its stereoscopic 3D and glorious 384x224 pixel display had a tendency to give people headaches😡😡and make them puke 😱😱 everywhere.

Today the puking and headaches have been replaced with bruises as people are falling over virtual furniture and pool tables. Neither children nor adults are safe, as these poor fellows experience πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

But what made VR go from something contained within huge arcade machines to something within the reach of so many people? After many years of less-than-satisfactory VR experiences, both hardware, display technology and software finally caught up to our imaginations. The modern VR revolution basically required this setup:

Mobile screen technology has gotten so good, with such high resolutions, the technology could be re-used for Virtual Reality equipment. The founder and creator of Oculus Rift metaphorically duct-taped a phone to his head to verify the product idea 😍😍. Further development of screen technology allowed for higher refresh rates than the first prototype (95 frames per second being the breakpoint for a smooth VR experience). It was also discovered that tricks that had worked well for regular computer monitors made the experience worse inside a VR headset. For instance, each time a new color is put on a pixel it would keep lighting until a new color was ready. This made for a terrible experience when moving your head, since it felt like the world was moving with you, making you feel seasick. Instead, VR headsets now always switch via the color black, and only blink the pixels in the correct color for short amounts of time. Finally, the ever-increasing power of GPUs have made more realistic and faster graphics possible. This means you still need a powerful computer with the latest tech to drive the systems at optimal resolution πŸ’»πŸ’» and speed 🏎🏎..

In the above picture to the left, you can see someone using the HTC Vive with the controllers allowing the game to track you while you walk through virtual reality. In the right picture, you can see Job Simulator, a game allowing you to experience what future humans think office work looked like back in the early 2000s. Being able to move around in your virtual cubicle is incredibly immersive πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚!

With multiple top-of-the-line VR headsets on the market right now (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony Playstation VR), and low-end offerings like Google Cardboard and Gear VR for the Galaxy Phone, VR is available for everyone πŸ’°πŸ’°.

If you’d like to find out more about VR, check out our Facebook Live stream πŸŽ₯πŸŽ₯ on the 22. of February πŸ“±πŸ“±. Check out our Facebook page for more information πŸ‘πŸ‘.

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