Rudolf is hugely enthusiastic about VR. I spoke with him at length, and he shared his honest opinion, knowledge and experience regarding Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality.
Can you explain the differences between AR, VR and MR?
Augmented reality adds digital elements to a live view. The perfect example of that is the Pokemon Go or Ikea’s mobile app. Most of the mobiles are supporting AR.
Virtual reality creates an entirely immersive experience outside of the real world. Users can be transported to a real-world or imagined environment. The best example is Half-Life: Alyx for me, you can get completely lost in that artificial world.
Mixed reality combines both AR and VR. Microsoft’s Hololens provides mixed reality, mainly for industrial usage. While mobile ARs can place virtual objects over a physical item, the MR uses the real environment to combine it with the virtual one.
How does Virtual Reality works?
When I put the headset on, and suddenly, reality fades away, and I feel my presence in that other world. It is crucial. If I don’t have that, the experience feels fake. Many factors can contribute to this, and one of them is tracking.
Most of the mobile VR use rotational tracking, called 3 degrees of freedom (3DoF). The problem with this is when you move your head, or you lean in a direction it’s not tracked correctly, and the whole world is shifting with you. Now, this can be an awful experience.
The other type is called ‘6 degrees of freedom’, and this one can track your position as well. This positional tracking lets you move around in the virtual environment. If you have a controller as well, you can interact with the virtual objects. That gives you total freedom.
Which headsets are available right now?
There are many and I will mention the most popular ones. Let’s go from the top to bottom.
In my opinion, Valve’s Index is the best of what’s out there at the moment. It comes with two base stations which can track everything you do in virtual reality. Accurate, fast and smooth. With the controllers, you can grab and drop items.
The downside of it is the price. Not only it is expensive, but you also need to buy a high-end PC.
Although many companies manufacture standalone headsets, I would recommend the Oculus Quest. The experience it provides is surprisingly close to what the Index offers. It is much cheaper and you don’t need to buy a PC as it works without any.
For PlayStation, you not only need to buy a headset but you need a PS4 console as well. Unfortunately, the tracking, the accuracy and the overall experience are far from what the Index provides. However, Sony has some amazing VR games, which are exclusive to PlayStation. It is still a great choice, though, because of the games.
Unfortunately, the Xbox does not have a VR offering. It would be nice if Microsoft would enable all the Windows headsets to be used on the Xbox.
What to buy really depends on your budget and your preferences. If you have the budgets, the Index is what you should go for. If you prefer a better price point and the freedom of playing wherever you want, go for the Oculus Quest 2.
In the next post, Rudolf covers the VR game genres, how it is affecting other industries and how careful you need to be when children playing VR.
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