Ready Player One — Delivering Your VR Experience

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As we discussed in our VR whitepaper, one of the early (and important) decisions you need to make is how you are delivering your VR experience. Back in 2016, we laid out the landscape of VR delivery devices—but as we all know, two years in this kind of tech might as well be twenty.

This year has brought a huge leap forward for VR devices, particularly with standalone VR headsets. We thought we’d dive into some of the big players in untethered play, and talk about why it matters to you.

What’s the Big Deal?

It may seem like a small thing, but not being tethered to a desktop is a big deal! Not having the connecting cable lying about for you to trip over while you’re viewing the VR experience is a nice little side benefit for users. You’re also not required to have a desktop with a powerful GPU nearby, or a $700 smartphone, to run the show.

With a standalone headset, there’s either a built-in adaptor and a battery pack that you can slide right into your pocket before you begin the experience, or it’s a wireless system. A standalone headset means it has the versatility to go anywhere with you without necessarily needing to lug around the desktop. It can move with you like a cell phone can because it’s a single integrated hardware piece.

Why It Matters

The standalone headsets are much more affordable than their desktop-tethered brethren, as well as more accessible. You can reach a wider training audience and give your learners access to VR simulations in more locations simply because it’s a breeze to obtain and ship. It also doesn’t require as many external pieces to function, so it’s easier (and more affordable) to transport for product demos and presentations, as well.

Be aware that the standalone option sacrifices some quality and the user experience may not be as stellar as what you can get from tethered VR gear with the power of a PC behind it. Once you see how they work, however, you can decide for yourself.

Who are the Players?

Oculus Go

Starting at a mere $200, this headset is essentially the Gear VR without the need for a phone. It’s for seated and standing experiences only, comes with a single hand controller that allows you to point and click, and an LCD display. Oculus Go also boasts a huge content library with more than 1,000 apps, games, and movies. You can give your viewers a fully immersive experience with integrated spatial audio, optimized 3D graphics, and stellar optics at one of the most affordable price points in immersive VR tech.

Oculus Go is arriving right about now, and in the near future, we have the Oculus Santa Cruz to look forward to—its hand controller will come equipped to track movement with 6DoF (six degrees of freedom), giving you the depth needed to walk around, grab things, etc. For now, Oculus Go does not have that capability.

Google Daydream

Daydream uses the Lenovo Mirage Solo headset, which gives you walk-around freedom in a small space for $400. What you gain in movement, however, you lose with its lack of hand controllers—but that all depends on the experience you’re looking to create. No cables, phone, or PC required. Daydream also uses WorldSense, a technology that picks up on your movement in space without the need for external sensors. Expect this beauty later in the year.

HTC Vive Focus

Have it all with walk-around freedom and a single hand controller (point and click) with the Vive Focus, starting at $635. This phone and PC-free headset uses an OLED display and tracks movement with 6DoF, so it doesn’t use external sensors, either. It’s the most expensive option, but it’s also the closest in tethered quality so far. Vive Focus is scheduled for release later this year.

We can’t wait to see what this tech’s versatility will mean for conferences, tradeshows, and educational material. Let the people have their untethered headsets!

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