Virtual reality, in short VR, goes a step further than (interactive) 3D visuals. We believe that virtual reality is the future for all kinds of projects: people won’t just see an impression, watch a movie or play a game, but will be immersed in a whole new world, leaving behind a memory of something they experienced firsthand.
Virtual reality feels like a very futuristic subject to many of us. However, since the early 90’s there have been numerous attempts to provide a decent virtual reality experience. Three-dimensional (real-time) graphics had just found their way into the industry and computers were not yet able to provide enough graphical power to generate desirable high quality graphics. Plus, no small screens were available to be implemented in the first virtual reality headsets. This meant that virtual reality headsets were very expensive and cumbersome, and the field of view was limited.
Fortunately, technology has greatly improved over the years, providing us with very small chips that have high computing power and small, yet high density screens that help virtual reality headsets serve a virtual world with a sense of scale that has never been so convincing before.
Due to the rapid developments in mobile phone technology, high quality sensors and smaller screens with high pixel density are now available on the market in mass production. These key components are getting cheaper by the day and accompany the virtual reality headsets during their upswing.
Besides the availability of these critical components, computers are getting very powerful. Real-time graphics are of a much higher quality and are being rendered way faster than a few years ago. Since modern day graphic cards provide stereoscopic images at a high frequency, that can be displayed to each eye separately, a natural 3D effect occurs. Relatively large lenses placed in front of the display distort the image so that it fills a large part of the user’s field of view. The distortion these lenses cause is then ‘undone’ by the software. Combine this with high precision (room-scale) tracking and you have a recipe that results in a feeling of presence in the virtual world: it’s as if you are stepping inside of this new world, experiencing it as if you are actually there.
Since the very beginning of the modern virtual reality era – an Oculus prototype held together with duct tape – everyone had been waxing lyrical about the its potentially created effect. This was duly noted by a few of the most important figures in the games industry: John Carmack (Commander Keen, Wolfenstein3D, Doom, Quake), Cliff Bleszinski (Jazz Jack Rabbit, Unreal, Gears of War) and Gabe Newell (Half-Life, Steam Gaming platform).
In the summer of 2012 Palmer Lucky – founder of the company behind the Rift – launched a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter in order to be able to start production on the Rift. He was able to raise ten times its given target: an astonishing $2.5 million out of the $250,000 required to start production. The icing on the cake being another $16 million obtained from investors during the next year after.
Eventually, Facebook acquired Oculus for a whopping two billion dollars. The Oculus Rift became the best-selling VR headset ever created. In April 2016 Oculus followed up their products by launched a consumer version, the Oculus Rift CV1.
Besides Oculus being swallowed up by this virtual reality trend, a few other big industry veterans came up with their own version of a virtual reality headset. Almost all of them relying on the same principle: a small screen with two large lenses in front of it, accompanied by a form of high precision tracking, a very notable collaboration being HTC and Valve with their HTC Vive. The latter including a very high quality tracking system called ‘Lighthouse’, providing a next level room-scale tracking solution with motion controllers.
As interaction with the virtual world is key for providing a credible presence, a new form of virtual reality controllers had to be invented. Nowadays the HTC Vive and Oculus CV1 are the most sold high-end virtual reality headsets. Both presenting their own solution to the tracking system and providing a unique controller solution. The HTC Vive comes boxed with two motion controllers that can be tracked with the company’s self-invented Lighthouse-system. Since the controllers come packed with the headset, almost all games/experiences created for the HTC Vive have built-in support for motion controllers. Oculus pushes the boundaries forward with their touch controllers. These controllers are fully tracked in the virtual space and have capacitive buttons that sense the presence of fingers on the device, providing a form of hand presence that has never been achieved before. Oculus Touch is not included when purchasing an Oculus Rift.
The Oculus developer kit was an initial version financed by a Kickstarter campaign, which sought to get the initial Oculus Rift into the hands of developers to begin integration of the device into their games. In August 2012, Oculus announced that the “dev kit” version of the Oculus Rift would be given as a reward to backers who pledged $300 or more on Kickstarter. There was also a limited run of 100 unassembled Rift prototype kits for pledges over $275 that would ship a month earlier.
In March 2014 at GDC, Oculus announced the upcoming Devkit 2 (DK2) which they expected to begin shipping in July 2014. It features several improvements over the first development kit, such as having a higher-resolution low-persistence pentile AMOLED display, higher refresh rate, head positional tracking, a detachable cable, and the omission of the need for the external control box.
Gear VR is a virtual reality device developed by Samsung in collaboration with Oculus VR. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is used as the screen and driving computer, mounted inside the Gear VR device. Like Google Cardboard, Gear VR has no display itself. But unlike Cardboard, Gear VR has multiple input methods and a headband to keep the device on people’s heads.
We are always motivated to implement the latest technologies into our 3D configurators. Besides the link to the digital drawing office (REVIT), the Oculus Rift really shows off its added value. For example: the 3D model can be viewed in Virtual Reality after the user configured it to his/her liking. The Oculus Rift gives a good sense of scale and atmosphere of your configuration. This way you can create the ultimate experience for yourself and your client.
Of course, it does not stop at the products listed. Numerous possibilities can be realized with the aid of the Oculus Rift. Therefore, we challenge you to tell us your idea or plan so that we can explain you the possibilities of virtual reality in your product. Our team of enthusiastic and knowledgeable specialists are ready to get it done and welcome you into the world of virtual reality.