Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Virtual Reality Headset
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It’s official: virtual reality (VR for short) is officially here, and it’s becoming mainstream in a big, big way.
What started out as a far-fetched, futuristic fad in the 1960’s with stereoscopic videos seemed to be relegated to research labs and movies like the 1982 film Tron until very recently. However, in the last few years virtual reality, or VR, has exploded back onto the tech scene.
It’s understandable that many people still feel skeptical about VR – after all, if you didn’t want to buy a Virtual Boy in 1995, why would you buy a headset in 2016?
The difference between the technology that was powering older VR experiences and what’s going on today is that there have been significant improvements in mobile technology. Modern mobile phones have high pixel density LCD screens, a gyroscope and camera which are already used for positional tracking, and the processing power to render an immersive 3D environment.
Test Before Investing
If the idea of spending time in a virtual space seems a bit intimidating, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Many people have a hard time wrapping their heads around setups like the HTC Vive, which can take up a whole room and uses a headset attached to a cable, controllers, and motion tracking cameras. Luckily there are lots of games, demos, and VR experiences that are available to you without the up-front investment in a complex set up like a Vive.
In fact, the majority of VR experiences being created right now are designed to be played on your mobile phone, and thanks to products like the Google Cardboard, you can “try out” VR for yourself.
In 2015 Google released the Google Cardboard VR Headset, which is a cheap and low-investment way to test VR out for yourself. Just pop your mobile phone into a headset, strap the cardboard container to your head, and experience all the world of virtual reality has to offer!
The Google Cardboard has become one of the most widely-used headsets because they’re cheap and easy to share and produce, making them great for people who aren’t sure if they want to take the plunge into full room-scale VR just yet.
Some VR Experiences to Try Out
Investing in a Google Cardboard is a safe way to “get your feet wet” in VR, but once you have your headset, what should you try? Here are a few suggestions:
ARTE360 is a VR video app which takes you on breathtaking 360 degree virtual reality experiences. Explore ancient ruins, mountain ranges, dive deep beneath the surface of the ocean, and much more! This app is a great introduction to VR and what it’s like to experience its immersive environments.
Caaaaardboard! Is a version of the game AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! Which has been altered to function in a VR headset. The ridiculous name aside, this fun, intensely immersive “base jumping” game has you jumping from buildings and platforms while doing stunts.
YouTube has recently begun allowing content producers to start publishing 360 video content designed with VR in mind, which means now you can explore video content on YouTube with your Google Cardboard and experience 360 video tours, talks, and more!
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