Awesome Stuff: Virtual & Augmented Reality Headsets

from the shifting-reality dept

For this week’s awesome stuff, we’re going to take a step into virtual and augmented reality headsets. Obviously, the Oculus Rift is the device that everyone talks about, but tons of alternatives — often making use of your own mobile phone — keep springing up, including things like Google Cardboard. Of course, in the last couple of weeks plenty of attention has been paid to Microsoft’s HoloLens, which is looking to redefine the market in a slightly different direction. But here are three crowdfunded offerings trying to make their way in the space as well.

  • SEER
    First up is SEER, which its developers insist is an augmented reality solution inspired by Iron Man. It has a wide field of view, works off of your existing smartphone and is a very open platform. I’m guessing the guys behind this weren’t thrilled with the timing of the HoloLens announcement, but it still looks pretty cool, and the price tag doesn’t seem crazy.
  • VISR
    The VISR looks like Google Cardboard made much nicer. It’s using laminated corrugate, so while still corrugated material, it’s much nicer and more durable. Plus it comes with a strap to attach it to your head (unlike the basic Google Cardboard setup). Despite all that, VISR is priced at about the same price as you’ll find various folks selling their own variations on Google Cardboard, so this seems like a fairly nice alternative.
    XG Virtual Reality Headset
    Taking it up a notch is the XG Virtual Reality headset, which could be seen as sort of somewhere between Google Cardboard and the Oculus Rift. It’s made by I AM Cardboard, which was one of the more well known makers of pre-fabbed Google Cardboard offerings, but they decided to take it up a notch and build a much nicer overall headset at a still reasonable fee.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Virtual & Augmented Reality Headsets”

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Anonymous Coward says:

One of the problems I see with this (there are a few) that I think needs to be addressed is the following. I was reading the reviews of Google cardboard and I came across this

Google Cardboard Plastic Version 3D VR Complete Kit Virtual Reality Glasses Headset for Real HD 3d Experience, Black

“One major drawback is that the rubber around the nose and ear seals that press against your face are extremely hard, so after a few minutes, it feels like the unit is really putting pressure on your face (when using the head straps for full weight support). Otherwise, the unit works well and is worth the price. “

While I never tried one of these things I agree completely, for me even wearing glasses (ie: sunglasses or eyeglasses) can be irritating because of the weight and pressure it puts around my head or on my nose unless I go through a lot of trouble to find a comfortable pair of glasses. These virtual goggles look pretty heavy. One simple solution might be to figure out a way to have it strap around or be supported by your shoulders. The shoulders are much stronger and able to support weight for prolonged periods of time because to be required to carry that thing around being supported by your face for a long time is going to get uncomfortable quickly (everyone is different of course, some people are much more sensitive than others, but for me anyways I would prefer a rig supported by my shoulders).

Much of these things just need minor tweaking when it comes to things like form factor, comfort, field of vision, ease of use and a suitable interface depending on what you’re doing, etc…

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’d say that you need them to be lighter. Much lighter. We will eventually get there but meanwhile if you want to use such devices then you’ll need to find a comfortable position (ie: reclined back) which is not that hard.

I am wary of using such devices because the immersion can make you oblivious to your surroundings which can lead to things like that Chinese guy who didn’t notice his mother falling and dying due to a game.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s not really the same as AR lenses. The linked product uses glasses to display/overlay an image which then gets passivly (using a filter) focused by the lens. That is cool no argument there but far away from the AR lenses because putting a computer and display into glasses is kind of easy.

Getting the whole stuff to a size that fits onto/into a contact lens might be a bit tricky. But with things getting smaller all the time I guess it can be done and even some form of storage can be put on a lens. But the big problem I see or couldn’t solve yet is the power supply. You don’t have the space to put a normal battery in the lens that lasts for more than a few seconds at best.
You could power it wirelessly from the side of your eye but people might not like that and my view is that it’s just a cheap trick that doesn’t really solve the problem of needing an outside power supply.

Rekrul says:

Is there anything similar to Google Cardboard or Visr that can act as a display for a traditional computer?

It doesn’t have to support 3D or motion tracking, just be a fairly inexpensive, head-mounted display that blocks out the real world.

Let me elaborate a little; I’m blind in one eye, so no 3D system works for me. Also, motion tracking has traditionally been a little laggy. Supporting both just needlessly complicates things and increases both the price and the system requirements.

I just want to play existing games while wearing a display that blocks out the real world so that all I see is the game.

Does such a thing exist?

Max (profile) says:

Yeah, well...

…regardless of the hardware, any VR/AR thingy is only as good as the software that supports it – ie. the question is what can you do with it…? Sadly, with most contestants: not much of anything.

If it’s VR, by definition you need something to generate that reality for you – like a game that’s capable outputting in whatever format your goggles use, and can react to your head-movements. The problem is, aside of the Oculus Rift, there aren’t really any games supporting any of the other goggles (sorry, I can’t really get excited about Fruit Ninja & co.).

And if it’s AR, the key is you need your software to be capable of recognizing your surroundings so it can meaningfully “augment” it – that assumes a camera on the goggles and some seriously capable “machine vision” software (beside the actual software you want to run); otherwise your “AR” goggles only react to your generic position and orientation which your phone can sense – just about enough for a satnav or a sky map, but not much else. Oh, and I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes if you ever so much as ding any other car while you drive with the SEER on, as suggested – I reckon they’d eat you alive…

Anonymous Coward says:

The future will become very grey and grided if AR becomes the norm since the demand for AR will require a level of compliance to harness the full potential of AR.

Some prime examples of such a future is the movie Cloud Atlas and the adult Japanese anime series Psycho-Pass.

In Cloud Atlas they displayed a fast food restaurant turning from cold hard concrete to a digital paradise and in Psycho-Pass, well, they basically display it every where.

And then there’s the game Remember me, which depicts AR going so far as to even be used as a weapon…

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