Virtual Reality has been a concept discussed in tech circles for decades, with plenty of tech in its various guises trying to pave the way forward within the industry. Following the notable success of virtual reality in 2016, there’s now added impetus for VR to move further into public consciousness, both commercially and domestically. Crucially, though, the question still remains – is virtual reality still out of reach for many users who just want to see what this stuff can do?
VR is becoming more accessible on two fronts. The industry-leading headsets are allowing for consistently-improving experiences where users can engage more and more with the environment around them. However, beyond the heavy investment into these research and development programs, the rise of the likes of Google Cardboard are allowing any smartphone user to gain entry level access to VR. Here, there’s still some really impressive immersion, which is far cheaper than many might expect.
Entry Level Gear
The cheapest of the three biggest selling headsets is the Playstation VR, currently priced in the region of approximately £350. Additionally, the likes of the HTC Vive clock in at approximately £760 (March 2017). So, as a result, the higher end products might seem like more of a luxury rather than an impulsive investment for a domestic user.
However, the lower end of VR is accelerating quickly and is offering a real and valid method for people to simply tap in the capabilities of entry level VR and satisfy their curiosity. The number of independently-built headsets proliferated in 2016 that followed the design of the Google Cardboard. Some of these headsets are as cheap as £4.00.
For a first venture into VR, picking up a Google Cardboard or its equivalent can quickly demonstrate the capabilities at play. Some experiences being made available, even for free, are really impressive. Given that all you need is a smartphone that functions as the display, this is becoming increasingly accessible, too.
What’s the difference between headsets, anyway?
Beyond all other additions, motion tracking serves as one of the clear differences between entry level models and their more expensive counterparts. Essentially, this allows for you to physically move within an environment, whereas less sophisticated versions would not possess this functionality. However, that certainly doesn’t mean that important immersive experiences still can’t be had – and there’s lot of people independently hacking away to create new innovations.
So, What Can Be Done at Entry Level?
Of course, there’s the fun stuff; you can quite quickly throw yourself into a horror scene or sit atop a rollercoaster and get a real sense of immersion and depth. Some businesses are also leveraging drones to help generate aerial maps. Here, businesses and their clients alike can actually then view an overhead map of a site in a relatively inexpensive VR headset. Then, there’s the likes of real estate – companies are taking advantage of this technology to show potential buyers the scope of a room without the initial need to actually go and view a property.
Youtube have a dedicated Youtube Virtual Reality channel, with recent adoption by Vimeo, too. Google have also integrated 360 into their Google Street View to add some much improved orienteering emphasis on the service. Essentially, entry level VR is being utilised now in any industry where three-dimensional can drive value to the user, spanning from the likes of health and safety, to education, to arts and culture. That’s just a brief insight into what’s going on, too. The possibilities for what can be achieved are constantly increasing, including assistance with drone racing…
VR is largely at version 1.0 and there’s certainly no denying that we’re a long way off the finished article. However, innovations are quickly cropping up as this technology is being embraced both in B2B and B2C environments. As a result, it will be crucial to see how businesses continue to adopt VR, as this could certainly increase its scope for development over the coming years.