From Virtual to Reality: VR Headsets going mainstream

July 1, 2015

Virtual Reality originally existed as a piece of technology that we only see in movies but today it has now gone mainstream and literally anyone can enjoy a good VR experience. For the past few years there has been a plethora of VR headsets ranging from the very simple to the downright expensive. Let us take a look at some of them.

The good thing about VR is that you have choices on every price point. These VR headsets won’t go over $30, meaning you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy them.

Google Cardboard (Starts at $14)

Google’s own VR device called the Google Cardboard is probably the cheapest ($14) among every device on this list. Why? Because the entire thing is simply made of cardboard. The device was made by Google to encourage development for the platform. Once assembled, you can simply pop in your smartphone running a dedicated app which can act as the device’s screen.

Variations of the cardboard are also available from other manufacturers and even the most expensive one ($29) won’t bust a hole in your wallet.

Some VR headsets like the ones below costs more – but offer stronger built quality and a plethora of other features.

Samsung Gear VR ($218)

The Samsung Gear VR is the headset developed by Samsung in partnership with Oculus VR. The device is somewhat similar to the Oculus Rift, but instead of a dedicated screen you are using a Samsung smartphone (specifically the Galaxy S6/S6 Edge) to experience virtual reality. It will set you back 799 AED, though if you’re interested better get your device now since it’s only available in limited quantities.

Merlin Immersive 3D VR Glasses ($110) /Archos VR Headset ($29.99)

The Merlin Immersive 3D VR Glasses and the Archos VR Headset virtually look alike – since probably they were from the same manufacturer. Both devices use a strong type of plastic for a stronger build. Like the others, you need to use your smartphone and run an app to experience VR.

You may notice that the Merlin Immersive 3D VR Glasses cost more since it is currently bundled with an Android gamepad controller.

Carl Zeiss VR One ($100)

The Cark Zeiss VR One supports smartphones with screen sizes varying from 4.7-inches to 5.2-inches, which would make it compatible with most smartphones available today. Primarily known as an optics company, Carl Zeiss can definitely offer something different in terms of a complete VR experience. The VR One also includes its own SDK for developing apps which are both compatible on iOS and Android.

Avegant Glyph ($600)

The Avegant Glyph somehow differs in design since looks like a very large headphone that you wear in front. This means that the ear cups still cover your ears, but the headband will now be placed in front of your eyes. Along with that, it also makes you aware of your surroundings by letting you see what is above and below the visor. While it looks cool, the price isn’t – at almost $600, it’s one of the more expensive ones.

Fove VR ($399)

Here we have another VR Headset, the Fove VR. Launched through Kickstarter, this headset not only tracks your head, but also your eyes that would help it recreate a simulation much like how it is in the real world. The device is still on Kickstarter and might take up to a year to get your unit if you are a backer.

Razer OSVR ($349)

It’s still in its development stages, but the Razer OSVR (Open-Source Virtual Reality) is already getting positive support from the VR community. Razer’s aim is to offer an ecosystem that’s open source and will be an open standard for all devices, games and apps. The Razer OSVR includes a 5.5-inch display and also includes an accelerometer, gyroscope and compass.

Oculus Rift ($350)

No one defined Virtual Reality better than the Oculus Rift – this head mounted display was initially revealed through Kickstarter which was later on purchased by Facebook. Development Kits are currently available for developers, a consumer version is scheduled to be released by early 2016.

That’s already a long list of great VR headsets – and it looks like the next couple of years will also see the introduction of new hardware that would make it even harder to decide which one is the best.

Project Morpheus

The Project Morpheus is a VR headset that is designed to be used with the Sony PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita. Capable of displaying content at full HD along with a 120 fps refresh rate, the Morpheus also features support for stereoscopic 3D – meaning you can play games in a virtual 3D world. No word on how much it would cost, but Sony is looking to release the device by the first half of 2016.

Microsoft Hololens

Microsoft’s Hololens is more of an augmented reality device than a VR device since it uses real surroundings to simulate other elements. Since it’s from Microsoft, the Hololens will be fully compatible with the Windows 10 platform, which in turn will be powering smartphones, desktops and even the Xbox One. Microsoft is looking to release the Hololens to the masses after the global rollout of Windows 10.

HTC Vive

HTC is also looking to get into the VR bandwagon with their own headset. Called the HTC Vive, this VR headset was made in partnership with Valve, who were the developers of a little known game called Half-Life. With OpenVR, the company’s SDK, it hopes to bring mainstream gaming titles made for the device. Epic Games was one of the supporters, letting developers take advantage of Unreal Engine 4 for making games and apps. HTC is looking to release the device before the year ends.

The application of virtual reality isn’t also restricted to hardware. Various companies have employed the same technology to deliver content made for the platform. Dubai 360 for example is a website that offers 360 degree views of Dubai – something that would be easily compatible with a VR headset. Same thing for Google Maps Street View. It could give you a much better perspective using this services with a VR headset.

But the question is that will virtual reality be more than just a form of entertainment? It’s plausible that the technology could also be applied in other areas but since we can still say VR is its in early stages, it might be a while before that happens.

by Victor
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff.