Monday, 29 August 2016

I've changed my opinion on VR/AR headsets

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Oculus Rift Headset
I’ve just finished watching a live Facebook Q&A in Rome, I’ve left a link in case you wanted to check it out yourself. About half way through Mark Zuckerberg was answering a question about how people use Facebook when he made a quick comment about virtual reality and it got me thinking.


So, even though nobody asked for it, here’s my opinion on Augmented and Virtual Reality. :P


If you don’t know Augmented reality is a view of reality in which computer generated elements such as video, graphics, 3D models etc are superimposed into our physical reality, sometimes referred to as meatspace. Pokémon Go has an example of an AR app. Virtual reality is purely a reality made up of computer generated elements usually used to replicate a real environment.


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Pokemon Go Augmented Reality View


Augmented and virtual reality headsets are here and I think, they’re here to stay. I usually have a good idea about what technology trends are going to stick and which will fade away. When Microsoft announced the Kinect I could see the practical applications for a lot of things but gaming wasn’t one of them. When 3D TVs and Google Glass were introduced I remember laughing in disbelief. Then came along Oculus.


I couldn’t see why anyone would want to wear a VR headset while doing anything. You look ridiculous and you know it. With previous attempts like Nintendo's virtual boy I was sure this would be a flop. Even as other companies like Google,  HTC, and Samsung started working on their prototype headsets I still thought it was a mistake. I had tried out the Oculus development kit 1 (DK1) and while it was immersive, wearing it for too long gave me and others headaches.


Then Late Panda went to GDC and holy crap, VR, was everywhere! I had time to explore all the different headsets, except PlayStation VR for scheduling reasons. I got to see the progress that had been made with the Oculus Rift since 2014, and even though the Oculus had a rocky launch I believe the technology that will only improve over time. like phones, I don’t think our headsets be disappearing any time soon.


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Hololens Headset


Then there’s Augmented Reality headsets. I’ve never experiences donning one of these devices but it’s clear to me, that this will be the future of mobile computing. Surprisingly by the time I learned about AR headsets my opinions about appearances had subsided somewhat. Don’t get me wrong, they still look dumb resting on your head but i could see the point in them immediately. Microsoft's Hololens does have its fair share of issues but it’s a self-contained system, which means no wires to tie you to a PC or to get tangled up in, and I fully expect the issues to be ironed out in the future. I’m also expecting a Google Glass comeback that’s slightly more practical than it’s predecessor, maybe they’ll do something with Magic Leap.


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Seriously, what the hell is Magic Leap! I still don't know!!


I’m just hoping the future isn’t filled with unnecessarily slow animations and copious amounts of hand gestures when trying to activate intangible buttons, which is the future depicted in this vision of 2025 by Microsoft.


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I hope you enjoyed that,
Ellie xx

"We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works." – Douglas Adams