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Innovation 29 May 2015

The race to lead virtual reality

Whenever we talk about virtual reality nowadays, it is inevitable that devices like Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus, Samsung Gear VR or HTC Vive are mentioned; therefore, this analysis states the advances that each contributes to developing this technology trend.

Oculus Rift

Is virtual reality returning again like in the early ’90s? ¿Is it a fad or a real commitment? Dead and buried several times for its technological and commercial fiascos, virtual reality has been resurrected, mainly, through Oculus Ritf. And it’s doing it in a big way.

Facebook’s $2-billion acquisition of the virtual reality company Oculus VR in 2014 and the enthusiasm for this multi-million dollar transaction made by Mark Zuckerberg put virtual reality back in the sights of all technology companies.

Before the purchase by Facebook, talking about Oculus Rift meant talking about Palmer Luckey. Dubbed the little genius of virtual reality, he was 2 years old in 1995 when Nintendo launched Virtual Boy. The Japanese company failed with its headset. A fiasco that Luckey did not experience who, at 16 years old, managed to create a crude but functional prototype of what would be Oculus Rift.

In 2014, at 21 years old, this Californian, who collects virtual headsets, sold an improved design of Oculus Rift to Facebook. Luckey always knew that, even though he was fascinated by the concept of virtual reality, the real experience offered by all devices so far have not reached the ideal of total immersion promised by science fiction.

One of the great achievements of Oculus has been overcoming initial skepticism and attracting big investors, who quickly pulled out their checkbooks after testing the device.

“I was speechless for the 10 minutes that the demonstration lasted. You have to see and experience it or you don’t understand how amazing it is,” said Santo Politi, a partner at investment firm Spark Capital.

Experts from the New York Times also swept their misgivings to one side. Proof of this is the article Virtual reality fails its way to success, that reviews the evolution of virtual reality devices. Despite the headline, Oculus Rift does not come out unfavorably. Its main asset, beyond its dazzling features or the huge investment by Facebook, is its quality, highlights the American Newspaper. “It is non-nauseating”, they pointed out. Unlike other devices, “the Oculus Rift doesn’t make you vomit”.

Oculus Rift Features

  • It has progressed the virtual world
  • It has managed to recapture interest in virtual reality.
  • It breaks the view of antisocial technology
  • It allows sharing unique and different experiences with others.
  • It no longer isolates the person from the reality surrounding him or her.
  • Multiple possibilities: not only in the field of video games. Its therapeutic use stands out: virtual reality makes it possible to treat diseases and phobias. For example, for a person who is afraid of heights, experience in a virtual world of crossing a bridge between two mountains can help him or her overcome this fear.
  • It transcends virtual limitshe Norwegian army is using Oculus Rift to handle battle tanks. The device has the advantage of being able to follow the driver’s head movements, which makes the cameras installed around the mobile give him a view from every angle.

Project Morpheus

The journal Techtimes published that its arrival is expected for the first half of 2016 but gamers worldwide are counting the days to get their hands on the upcoming Sony Project Morpheus. This is a virtual reality headset that promises to bring the next generation console PlayStation 4 to a new gaming level.

Shuhei Yoshida, President of SCE Worldwide Studios, described the new prototype using these words:

“We are one step closer to realizing our vision for making amazing virtual reality experiences, and ultimately to deliver a real sense of presence to players, as if they are within the game’s scenario”.

The Sony prototype enhances the viewing experience and allows features critical to get the feel of presence to be followed with great accuracy.

Project Morpheus Features

  • Virtual reality experience: 120Hz refresh rate (and 120 frames per second for games) and an input lag (latency in using the headset) of less than 18ms.
  • Visibility improvements lag (latency in using the headset) of less than 18ms: The screen has improved thanks to an OLED panel and a resolution of 1920×1080 that helps eliminate motion blur and persistence that the original Project Morpheus LCD panels had.
  • Screen: It has a 5.7-inch screen that offers the player a 100-degree field of vision. Furthermore, 9 LED trackers are included to support 360-degree head tracking.

Samsung Gear VR

Samsung has joined Oculus to land in the virtual reality field. It has therefore developed Gear VR glasses that are already on the market and can only be used with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. They have been devised as a mobile phone accessory and their measurements are 90-mm high by 198-mm wide and 116-mm thick.

They have an area to connect the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which makes its 5.7-inch high-resolution Quad HD Super AMOLED screen available to users.

It offers a complete immersive experience through its 96-degree viewing angle. The phone connects to the glasses via a USB port for these to boot. The virtual reality glasses offer 3D content where images are displayed in stereocopy for viewing with a light effect of depth.

Following this model, the Korean giant is still working in the field of virtual reality. Just two months ago it presented the new Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, lighter than the previous model and can be recharged via USB while being worn.

HTC Vive

The Taiwanese giant HTC also does not want to stay out of the fight and is strongly committed to leading the virtual race. Therefore it has joined up with Steam, Valme provider, the most important distribution platform for PC software.

The company notes that HTC Vive will be available at the end of the year. Its system will be equipped with a base station that makes it possible to track usersmovement in 3D space. The SteamVR base marks the user’s position through the scenario – physical spaces of 4.5 by 4.5 meters.

The giant also announces a specific driver, through a set of gloves, which allows the user to handle virtual objects. To avoid the dreaded dizziness, it includes about 70 sensors with a 90 Hz refresh rate.

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