The Best Reasons for purchasing a VR headset (or Oculus Quest) today17.06.2019, 14:34
Virtual Reality is proving to be a fascinating and engaging medium for exploration, a bit like TV was, only more demanding on the senses, and less immediately social. These 2 reasons are perhaps what is making adoption slow, but there are so many great experiences out there now, and the hardware comes in varying degrees of user-friendliness. But... it's looking like it's worth the effort, where every home could start preparing a room specifically for explorations in VR. Even better, you can now walk outside that room sometimes...
Yes, new headsets like the Oculus Quest (standalone, more affordable, and with no cables restricting your movement) are helping to spread the medium. It's not solving the anti-social element however, which will have to be integrated better into many apps and games, and will still involve avatars etc, but efforts are being made (see the app list below). The social element will probably be more solved by AR technology, where people will appear in the real-world when you put on AR glasses.
Artificial Reality - or mixed reality - will probably be more useful, more seamless and easy to integrate into our everyday lives, like computers were. The world of business will probably jump onto AR, revolutionising the office for starters, while VR will remain the all-immersive deeper exploration device. Ultimately, we'll probably see headsets that can do some of both on demand - and maybe they'll even be nice to wear!
All this is important to realise when reading why one should buy a VR headset. You are buying a special, immersive and less social kind of TV. It's more like diving gear. It's true that games are the driving force, and create the most breathtaking out-of-body experiences, but a lot of people aren't interested in playing transient games, and look to VR for more worthwhile experiences for education (kids above 13 years and only for 10 minutes at a time) or for exploration, or making art, or visiting places and museums and galleries. Thinking of going on holiday? Buying a house? Using Google Earth or special holiday or real estate apps, you'll be able to 'go there' before you go, in order to check whether your going to like it when you get there, the hotel, or just getting a feel for the destination.
Yes, people will start to 'preview' the world like never before, and we could - even - see the rise of a more globally-aware culture. The Youtube 360 app will be included in the Oculus Quest, which straight-away makes over 1 million experiences available to you.
The new Oculus Quest has not been out for long and is the latest attempt to bring VR more accessibly to those who've not yet got their virtual feet wet, and without it costing the Earth. It comes in a 64GB version for $400 and 128GB model for $500. For starters, it no longer needs any mobile phone to insert, or cables that get you all in a twist. The Quest is as standalone as you can get, with in-built speakers and state-of-the-art lenses, and yet it's never been so affordable in comparison with top-spec headsets. Could this be the gear that really makes some inroads in increasing the demand for VR? Well, the wealth of games and experiences out there on Steam are already impressive, and many of these will come to the Quest. Read a full review here.
The good news is that these new devices will certainly keep motivating developers to explore the medium and film-makers to continue to experiment with virtual and immersive narrative.
Where VR really shines, is where it not only vividly transports us to places or environments, but informs us or moves us somehow when we get there, even allowing us to participate in something. This is the area where VR will get interesting, at least until the real advent of AR technology, which will bridge a more useful gap between the real and virtual private immersion.
Anyway, without placing such an emphasis on gaming, let's take a look at some stand-out VR experiences or apps that will make purchasing a Quest a worthwhile move.
Talking about exploration, one should probably start here where the entire mission to the moon is recreated, from launch to touchdown. Finally, astronomers and normal people can appreciate being 'inside' the whole event. Made with love.
One of the main attractions of this is being able to watch movies with other people, and you certainly can here. Just be warned, you can't throw popcorn at people when they're making too much noise.
Aquariums are all well and good, but this brings you up close and personal to ocean life in some pretty amazing ways. You don't even have to queue up.
Nature Treks VR
Basically, it shows off the ability of VR to enable relaxation, and this one's a top contender for the most relaxing experience you'll find (at the moment).
Once you get the hang of the controls, you'll find a massive amount of VR communities and rooms created by them. A lot bigger (and better) than Second Life.
Even easier to use on a Quest, there is something awesome in being able to walk around a 3D painting you just created. Fun, simple and inspiring.
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Yes, you can now do your computing inside virtual space, with some extra touches. Particularly good for concentrating on something private and important. Finally, roads are being paved so we never need mix (intense) business with pleasure again. After all, you could say that being in reality, is one big pleasure!