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Rise of the Self-Contained VR Headsets
Self-contained VR headsets significantly improve ease of access to virtual reality content
The Oculus Go hit the market only two months ago but is already making some very significant waves. Offering users to ability to experience virtual reality wherever, whenever, it’s a truly liberating piece of hardware.
It is billed as the ultimate virtual reality experience and the Oculus Go achieves something VR users had been hoping and praying to see for decades; true freedom and flexibility. Gone is the need for trailing cables and computer or a laptop to provide the processing power – in its place sits the Oculus Go a modern, flexible and liberating experience.
Oculus Go provides a powerful means for people to game, socialise, experience unique environments and watch TV and movies. And all of this is wrapped up in a self-contained, portable VR unit – which is very well-designed, comfortable, light and easy to use.
Under the hood, the Oculus Go isn’t skimping either. The headset features a 538 ppi 2569 x 1440 WQHD LCD display, with fast-switch capabilities built-in. What this means in real terms is stunning, crystal-clear image quality that truly makes you feel immersed in a VR environment.
For audio, the Oculus Go is no slouch, with on-board spatial audio providing real-time input to the viewer. So, if for instance you’re playing a game and a predator with bad intentions is rustling and hiding in a bush behind you, you’ll know about it. In terms of movies, this means amazing quality audio from all-encompassing angles in a fully-immersive environment.
In terms of options, you have a choice between the 32GB and 64GB models. The 32GB Go will be ideal for those looking to experience VR for the first time, whilst the larger memory option will be a good choice for hardcore gamers and existing users of VR.
The Oculus Go also won’t break the bank – another core feature of its design. The 32GB option will come in at $319 in Australia, with the 64GB model costing $386.
Whilst there are amazing personal entertainment uses for the new Oculus Go, this kind of portable VR technology also has huge potential when it comes to commercial applications.
Businesses that operate in risky environments, for example, will be able to apply the Oculus Go as a tool to train their employees on occupational health and safety requirements. They can put the Oculus Go to work to provide detailed, immersive training to staff before they have to set foot in a real hazardous environment. Because the technology is so immersive, it allows viewers to learn and gain mastery of the training through visual and audio experiences more quickly than through talks and conventional training – all from the safety of a virtual environment.
Many industries – including healthcare, retail and space exploration – are already using VR in their training efforts to improve safety and help workers develop new skills. Some companies are using VR alongside corporate presentations, with attendees able to feel like they are in the room no matter where they are physically located in the world.
Alongside these efforts, there are also virtual work environments like vSpatial, which gives users a working experience far beyond the average desk-bound role.
For spaces like museums – many of which are already using augmented reality in sync with visitor’s smartphones and devices – this type of virtual experience could change the way people experience history and culture.
Users of an Oculus Go could, for example, see moving, true-to-life dinosaurs on display in a museum or admire Picasso creating one of his own paintings. In addition the Oculus Go offers experiences to enhance visitor education. Users could be given access to new information and insight only available in the virtual environment, expanding and improving on what augmented reality already offers.
In the same vein, exhibitions will be able to offer an enhanced, invisible layer of interactivity and insight on top of existing events. A delegate wearing an Oculus Go for example could use their headset to access specific corporate VR presentations, key note speeches or discussion panels and seminars. At the same time, businesses can offer engaging and informative experiences that promote their products and solutions in fresh new ways while still providing something of true value to the user.
Other companies are not waiting around to see how the Oculus Go will perform in the long term. Major players like Google and Asus are already pushing our their own self-contained headsets, with different capabilities and all with an eye to capture their corner of the booming VR market.
Google’s Daydream headset isn’t a pure VR option, because it uses a Daydream-ready phone in conjunction with a headset. However, Google is planning to produce a dedicated, standalone VR headset – still under the Daydream brand. Details of its specs are still thin on the ground, but with the capabilities and resources Google has at its disposal, you wouldn’t bet against it being a robust option.
Microsoft is also entering the VR field with its ‘Mixed Reality’ platform and HoloLens headset. Embracing Mixed Reality as a solution, Microsoft seems to see virtual and augmented content as an important part of its future, encompassing everything from gaming and media to the corporate world. As such, they have developed their own platform – compatible with Windows 10 – and acquired a wealth of content to push to the system.
HTC – already known for its own VR and AR offerings – is in the process of launching a self-contained Vive headset for the Chinese market known as the HTC Vive Focus. There’s no word yet when, or even if, this will hit Australia or further afield, but if it’s a success there’s no reason to think it won’t.
As VR options like the Oculus Go become more popular and more affordable, virtual reality spaces will become more accessible for everyone. This means a more immersive form of entertainment, yes, but also very real, important commercial applications that could change the way training, and even work itself, happens.
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