A stream of light rushes over the dew soaked hill, speeding towards you. Kneeling, you gaze upon the ground below you. Your white tunic is stained in a myriad of red. The sheen of your sword is cloaked by the memory of war. Hate flows through your being. It leaves a metallic taste in your mouth, but you know the taste of blood. With all your might, you use your sword to prop yourself up from your fallen stance. Your head raises and you look upon the battered landscape in front of you. Soldiers, Knights, Kings, and friends lay in horrific slumber near your feet. Off in the distance, the silhouette of a flag spears the shape of the sun; Agoth and his army have returned to finish off any survivors. Your grip tightens around the hilt of your sword. Your teeth grind with rage. As you leap out of your footing…
“Mike! Dinner,” yells Mom. You hit pause on your gloves and take off your headset. Agoth can wait, it’s time for Mother’s famous Shepherd's Pie.
Well, maybe this will be real life one day. Hopefully, I won’t be living with my Mom. Still, virtual reality is no fantasy, or nightmare. This is real life. And, recently, virtual reality has become more and more popular and accessible for everyone.
Last year alone, virtual reality evolved to become a driving force in the consumer electronics industry. Not only did companies like Oculus and Microsoft invest in standalone products such as the Oculus Rift and HoloLens (yes, this is an augmented reality device but still important to this movement), but even Google and Samsung invested in opportunities to create VR from your mobile devices.
If you are in the market for emerging technologies, you have hear of the Oculus Rift. Hell, if you are a friend of a friend who is dating a fan of technology you have probably heard about Oculus. This relatively affordable piece of technology is competitive in price, falling slightly above the price of console gaming, but it's options are not limited to the gaming world. From viewing media to engaging in social media to even working in a business setting, Oculus is a platform for everybody. That being said, if you aren't ready to spend a few pennies to immerse yourself in a world within your own, maybe wait to try another option.
Samsung and Google were clearly aware of the price point of VR, which is why they both developed a way to integrate a smartphone into a headset. If you remember, the year before Google partnered with the New York Times to mail at least a million cardboard headsets to the internationally recognized paper's subscribers. By building this cardboard frame, users could slip a smartphone into the headset and use it as their display. Now, while it's far less supporting of a makers-movement, Samsung partnered with our friends at Oculus to design Gear VR, a $100 virtual reality device that uses your Samsung smartphone as the display. A great option for Samsung users, but it might have missed out on marketing to a larger audience.
To step off to the side of virtual reality, Microsoft developed Hololens. Although it is a virtual reality headset in it's core, it is actually an augmented reality headset. Instead of creating a completely unique and fictional space within a headset, augmented reality molds the world around you to become something different. Essentially, you can see the world in front of you while engaging in media that is augmenting that space you see. This piece of tech costs the most of all these VR-advancements. However, might not augmented reality be the better shift? Should we be closing ourselves off from the world?
While virtual reality is a fantastic development, it will be interesting to see how it tests time. My hope is for it to go all the way. Already are companies hopping aboard this train. Even laser tag is evolving to encompass virtual environments. While some might argue this to be a trend, only time will tell. Now, back to slaying Agoth.