May 23, 2018
I remember vividly how films like The Lawnmower Man showed us what a virtual reality future could look like, back in 1992. Or at least they tried to. VR became a bit of a joke after that. In recent years, however, it has regained respect and become something to excite us once again. But, the devices have often been either slightly fiddly, expensive or had nausea-inducing side effects. They went from either the basic sticking your phone into a piece of cardboard option or spending upwards of $650. They were lacking a mid range. Again it seemed like a false (or at least a slow) start. Now, however, we are seeing a new level of accessibility dawning which could just finally become the tipping point for VR.
Our LEWIS London Labs team recently acquired an Oculus Go, to further develop our VR research. This device is the first killer VR device in my opinion. The barrier to entry is incredibly low. No PC or console required, no trailing wires, no heavy uncomfortable headset and, perhaps most importantly, no hefty price tag. It is easy to setup, just needs a WiFi connection, and has some great apps and videos already available. Retailing from $199, this device represents an attainable entry point into the world of high quality VR.
While testing the headset with a lot of the current content, we have been pretty blown away by the immersion. Even though some 360 videos are still quite low resolution, the lack of lag in the headset means that you feel totally immersed in the environment, and do lose your bearings when you take off the headset and realise you’re facing a totally different way than you thought you were. I can only imagine how good it will be when the resolution of videos increases.
That’s not to say the headset is perfect though. There are three slight issues that I can spot so far.
These issues above are pretty small in the grand scheme of things though. I’m still hugely impressed with this headset and I’m sure it will usher in a new range of other cheaper, but still high quality, headsets. This is the beginning of a new push for VR. This device has shown me what the future will be like. Think back to what smartphones were like 15 years ago and how they are today. I can only imagine what VR headsets will look like in 10-15 years. Here’s what I think manufacturers need to develop.
For the first time, however, using this Oculus Go, I do feel that a part of the Ready Player One vision may actually happen one day. I already believe that people could easily spend the majority of their day on this current headset just exploring different experiences. I’ve been watching 360 videos of places around the world I never thought I would be able to see, and of activities that I never thought I would be able to. I’ve experienced sport from unique angles. I’ve hung out with friends in new and innovative ways. Just think how much more exciting, and addictive, this will all become as VR becomes more real and more easy to use.
Stay tuned for further articles in our VR series, beginning with next week’s post where we cover some of the best content that you could be watching if you have just bought an Oculus Go.