Finally, the first Virtual Reality HMD (Head Mounted Display) – the Oculus Rift – has reached retail availability. The first reviews have started pouring in – here’s a pretty good one from The Verge^. Things are pretty much as I expected, with the majority of reviews being positive and the rest being rather neutral. So far I haven’t read anything seriously bad and although this is very encouraging, it is not a surprise given the fact that all companies involved have been preparing for this launch for plenty of time.
In the meantime, VR as a technology continues to promise growth in the most unexpected of areas. For example there are these guys who propose giving HMDs to roller coaster^ riders. Combining high quality computer graphics with a roller coaster experience is indeed something that I’d love to try one day.
On the other hand, there are companies whose VR content is not exactly top notch. Take for example AltspaceVR. Even though their VR client now supports Samsung’s Gear^, the graphical quality is below what could be achieved even with the limitation of having to run on weaker, mobile graphical processors. AltspaceVR’s “games”^ are not much to look at either. I’m worried about half–baked products ruining the reception of VR. This is one of the most important technological revolutions of the past few decades and I believe a proper, polished launch is very important. Let’s not forget the debacle that was Google Glass.
Luckily, there are plenty of companies that have amazing products lined up. The Oculus launched with some really good titles such as “Eve Valkyrie”, “Elite: Dangerous” and “Lucky’s Tale”. However, I believe the best is yet to come, especially when “No Man’s Sky”^ shows up, which, I believe, is the title that will truly make VR. I hope Oculus can have its controllers ready as soon as possible. And if not, there’s always the Vive^, which will also hit retail availability very soon.
So, ready or not, VR is coming to town. I think that the companies that are at the forefront of this new technological revolution will have a lot to gain from their investment. I’m looking at you, FaceBook, Samsung, Valve, HTC and Microsoft. Plenty of big names are still missing in action, especially Google and Apple. Regarding Apple, they don’t even have decent hardware support for VR^, as recently pointed out by Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey. The coming twelve months will certainly be very, very interesting. Let’s watch and enjoy the show.