There has been a great deal of talk concerning virtual reality. It’s a format that most thought would quickly change the world of entertainment, and it may very well have already if it wasn’t for the high cost. Most VR equipment packages range from $400–$800+, a price that would frighten even the biggest tech junkie. This high cost has been a huge factor in the slow growth of the VR industry. A lack of consumers using the format has caused a lack of games being developed for VR, which gives consumers another reason to stay away from the format — a lack in content.
It would seem that the only way to end this vicious cycle is to make VR more affordable and, in turn, more accessible. Luckily, companies have caught on to this, and many are starting to develop cheaper, less clunky systems that may help boost interest and, in turn, confidence in the VR industry.
Here are five products that are helping the movement:
- Facebook’s “Pacific”:
Bloomberg recently reported that Facebook was taking another stab at VR with a focus on creating a standalone model. Code named “Pacific,” the device is expected to sell for as little as $200 and be powered with a Snapdragon mobile chip from Qualcomm. The gaming power is said to be superior to that of Samsung’s Gear VR, but unlike the Oculus Rift, will not include positional tracking technology. Without positional tracking, the device won’t be able to tell where its user is spatially, which kind of takes away some of the magic from the VR experience. Luckily, a future version of the product will have that technology, according to a person familiar with the plans. However, even without the tracking, its low cost and decent quality could make “Pacific” the gateway device that gets consumers hooked.
2. Samsung’s “Odyssey”:
For over a year there have been rumors that Samsung was developing a standalone VR headset. And just two months ago, insiders at the company told Pocketnow that consumers could expect something with a lot sharper clarity than the Galaxy S8, which can currently be paired with early-gen Gear VRs. The new device is expected to come with a clarity-maximizing 2,000 pixels-per-inch (ppi) density shaming the now modest-sounding 460 or so ppi counts of the Rift and Vive. And even better — this platform is expected to come with positional tracking, according to Samsung’s head of research and development for software and services, Injong Rhee, who confirmed that the company was working on a stand-alone mobile VR back in 2016. If this standalone model does in fact come with position tracking it may just change the game all together. Consumers could enjoy a full VR experience with a fraction of the equipment used today, and hopefully at a fraction of the cost.
3. HTC & Google’s Love child:
Probably one of the more exciting headsets in development is the one HTC is working on for Google’s Day Dream Platform. Google released its Daydream platform for Android in 2016, enabling specific Android phones to support virtual reality content. It eventually released what it called the Day Dream Viewer (a Glorified Google Cardboard) for the platform, but now the company is taking a leap forward with its new soon-to-be named VR system. The new standalone device uses what Google calls WorldSense, a precise positional tracking system that relies on a “handful” of sensors to keep track of the user’s surroundings. Not only do these internal sensors improve the overall experience of VR, they eliminate the need for external sensors and the time it usually takes to establish a playing area. Users will have the ability to jump, duck, high five, grab and do whatever they physically want without constraints. This will enable developers to create experiences which go beyond traditional PC-based and phone-based limitations.
4. Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition:
This $300 device, though not completely wireless (must be plugged into a PC), has a couple things going for it. In addition to the low price and being able to use just about any PC program with it, the headset has internal sensors. As mentioned before, internal sensors are huge. They allow for a more complete VR experience, one that doesn’t involve bumping into furniture or walls. The device also allows users to travel back and forth between a completely virtual world and a world of mixed reality; a feature that is especially useful whenworking on a project that requires focus in both the virtual and tangible world. However, one down side of the device is that it requires an Xbox controller to interact with the virtual world.
VR isn’t going to become accessible over night; there is a lot of experimentation in store for the industry. But if companies, like the ones mentioned above, continue their efforts to offer less bulky and more affordable gear, the wait might not be too much longer. And just as most know someone who foolishly said they were “never going to get a smartphone,” society will one day be laughing at the person who said “VR is never going to make it.”