Virtual Reality is back
Back in the early 90's virtual reality promised a lot and delivered little. This was the time of movie "Lawnmower man", the 486 Intel pc, Doom was the must have PC game with blocky graphics as this
was years before the 3DFX Voodoo 3D cards were released. Game consoles were pretty poor (pre Sony PlayStation one) and game arcades were still the place to play top games, 3D games such as 'Hard Drivin' or Daytona USA. Around this time I used to take the train down to London occasionally to visit the arcades there. It was fun to visit Soho(the Red light district) which amongst sex shops and review bars also had one or two cool arcades. I can remember playing "Dragon's Lair" there, but this must of been in the late 80's.
The Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus also contained a huge arcade and within it was the "Virtuality" centre, home to 3D game Heavy Metal (Exorex) which had stereoscopic 3D visuals. The head mounted display
consisted of a visor fitted with two displays of 276x372 resolution. I remember having to wait a while to get a go, it was expensive costing £5, the equivalent of £9.50 today. I only had one go which was utterly disappointing, it was one of the worst games I had ever played. The graphics were blocky and it was almost impossible to control due to the lag and poor processing power. The hardware was expensive and so was never going to be seen in your local arcade, let alone in your living room.
Roll forward 20 years and everything is about to change.
There are two types of immersive technologies. "virtual reality" where you are fully immersed in a virtual world via a head mounted display and "augmented reality" where your normal reality is improved or altered.
VR Head mounted displays
Oculus VR - Oculus RiftPowered by your PC, Twin OLED 1920x1080 resolution display, head tracking via external camera, combination of 3-axis gyros, accelerometers, and magnetometers
Cost: less than $500
* Update March 25 2014, Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 Billion.
Gameface Labs - Game facePowered by a built in mobile phone, Single 1920x1080 display.
Dive VRPowered by your mobile phone
Sony – Project Morpheus
Powered by your Playstation 4, LCD 2 x 1920x1080 resolution display
Uses a mobile phone slid into the headset as the display. Does both VR and AR.
Augmented reality glasses
Technical Illusions - Cast AR
Epson - Moverio BT-200
LaForge Optical’s “Smartspecks”