Oculus Rift: The Future of Virtual Reality Gaming (How To Guide)

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  1. Our VR Beginners Guide Introduction To Virtual Reality
  2. A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Virtual-Reality Future
  3. Grab the best VR headset available and wade head first into our virtual future.
  4. Recommended VR Systems

The truth, of course, is likely somewhere in between. But either way, virtual reality represents an extraordinary shift in the way humans experience the digital realm. Computing has always been a mediated experience: People pass information back and forth through screens and keyboards. VR promises to do away with that pesky middle layer altogether. Got all that? Don't worry, we're generally just going to stick with VR for the purposes of this guide.

By enveloping you in an artificial world, or bringing virtual objects into your real-world environment, "spatial computing" allows you to interact more intuitively with those objects and information. Now VR is finally beginning to come of age, having survived the troublesome stages of the famous "hype cycle"—the Peak of Inflated Expectation, even the so-called Trough of Disillusionment.

But it's doing so at a time when people are warier about technology than they've ever been. As with the technology itself, of course, "potential" is only one road of many. The idea of immersing ourselves in 3-D environments dates all the way back to the stereoscopes that captivated people's imaginations in the 19th century.


Our VR Beginners Guide Introduction To Virtual Reality

If you present an almost identical image to each eye, your brain will combine them and find depth in their discrepancies; it's the same mechanism that View-Masters used to become a childhood staple. When actual VR took root in our minds as an all-encompassing simulacrum is a little fuzzier. As with most technological breakthroughs, the vision likely began with science fiction—specifically Stanley G. What does IMU mean?

What are degrees of freedom? Your power of in-VR movement. That lets you look freely around a space, but it doesn't let you move. For the full six degrees of freedom, or "6DOF," you need either external sensors that track your headset in space via infrared as with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive or a headset with outward-facing visual sensors that allow it to extrapolate its own position. What's latency?

Oculus Rift The Future of Virtual Reality Gaming How To Guide

The time it takes for your head movement to be reflected by the headset's display: If you turn your head quickly, how long does it take for your perspective to change in accordance? High latency upwards of 20 milliseconds or so is the foremost cause of simulator sickness in VR. What's VR presence? The phenomenon that occurs when VR is good enough to trick your senses into believing that you are really experiencing the thing you're virtually experiencing, and your body responds in kind.

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Have you ever stood on a ledge or a high building in VR and refused to step off, even though your rational brain knew you'd just find more carpet? That's because of presence. What is the screen door effect? No matter how good a display's resolution, having it 2 inches in front of your eyes means you're gonna see pixels—and what's even more distracting for some people is the dark space between pixels, which can give the effect of peering through a fine mesh.

What's simulator sickness? When what you're seeing doesn't match up with what your inner ears are feeling—often due to latency, or when rotation makes the virtual world appear to smear, judder, or blur—your brain assumes you've been poisoned, and reacts by making you feel queasy.

A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Virtual-Reality Future

Moving beyond stereoscopes and toward those magical glasses took a little more time, however. In the late s, a University of Utah computer science professor named Ivan Sutherland—who had invented Sketchpad, the predecessor of the first graphic computer interface, as an MIT student—created a contraption called the Sword of Damocles.

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Read the full review: PlayStation VR. As a teenager, Luckey collected VR tech and was fascinated with making his own headset in his garage. It's seen some decent upgrades over the years thanks to the inclusion of the Touch controllers which we'd argue are slightly superior to the Vive's , and a couple of key price drops.

The reason is that while the Vive is designed to let you walk around in any direction, by default the Rift has you place its two sensors in front of you. This means that the tracking is more single-sided, and you can't let yourself get turned around, or else the sensors will lose track of you.

The experience is a bit different when you add a third sensor to the mix, but if you're comparing apples-to-apples, we still believe the Vive does room-scale a heck of a lot better. That being said, by being cheaper than the Vive, the Oculus Rift offers a very compelling mid-range virtual reality option for those with less space to spare. Read the full review: Oculus Rift.

The newest high-end VR headset in town comes packing a lot of impressive specs. This means ultra-crisp visual fidelity that lets you experience textures and shadows in a way previously impossible in VR.

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There's also the addition of built-in headphones and new nose guards that do a better job of blocking out light than the HTC Vive. However, for all its shiny new specs, new navy blue color and a game library that's sure to grow, the HTC Vive Pro has some serious flaws. The main one is obvious: it's expensive.

Grab the best VR headset available and wade head first into our virtual future.

It costs the same as the HTC Vive did at launch, and it doesn't come with any accessories in the box. That's right: you'll have to buy controllers and sensors separately. Setup is also a challenge with the Vive Pro because all of your firmware has to be as up-to-date as possible. Even then, you may run into some challenges, which could deter the average user from jumping into the Vive Pro experience. It's still an awesome headset, just one that's probably not for everyone. Samsung Gear VR has always been a respectable smartphone-powered VR headset, but now that it has a motion controller, it's taken things to the next level.

In addition to the new controller, the updated Gear VR is lighter and more streamlined than before, and features a USB-C connector that hooks directly to a Samsung Galaxy phone. The included motion controller has undertones of the HTC Vive controller design, with a touchpad and trigger button, which aren't bad things. It's with the controller that the Gear VR really takes off, allowing you to interact with the VR worlds in front of you in a way previously impossible without it.

Recommended VR Systems

Of course, being powered by a smartphone, the headset's performance is entirely dependent on the phone you've slotted in, though in our experience this isn't a problem considering the power behind Samsung's higher-end handsets. However, if you're using an older Galaxy phone, your experience could be noticeably different.

There are all kinds of VR experiences, from video games to Everest simulations , and they all require a different level of horsepower to make things happen. Granted, having played several in-development Playstation VR games, we can tell you that most of them are merely okay although the games displayed at E3 all look terrific —and beyond that, of course, all this is still provisional: Half of this stuff isn't even out yet, no one knows if it'll work all that great, and there's a strong chance VR will probably make you want to hurl your first couple times out.

VR is still in its infancy, and the iterative nature of tech makes it a pretty reasonable for you to sit this first round out, see if it sticks, and then maybe pick up next year's model of whatever setup you've got your eye on. After all, the first iPhone wasn't all that great. Let some other guy work out the kinks, and if you have a pathological need to show off your tech gadgets, that's what smartwatches are for.