Starting today, you can officially buy a fantastic VR headset for your PC
There may have been moments in the past where a “virtual reality helmet” existed as a commercial product. Let’s be clear though, previous attempts at VR were giant clunky horrid experiences (yes, I’ve tried them) and cost thousands of dollars. This is a whole new world in both experience and cost. The Oculus Rift goes live with preorders today — it’s the first consumer-targeted VR headset for the home PC (development kits have been available for a few years).
You might be familiar with VR experiences like Google Cardboard, or even the Samsung Gear VR. You may have even tried them. But these simply do not quite compare to the experience of putting on a VR headset that is high resolution, tracks your physical movement (not just phone rotation), and is powered by a full strength PC. To be blunt, it’s freaking cool.
Trying one may not change your life, but it is guaranteed to change your perspective.
Preordering an Oculus Rift gets you the head-mounted display, an Xbox One controller, a remote, and a camera that tracks your motion. At $599, this may be a difficult decision to make, especially considering the fact that you may need to upgrade your computer to be able to power the Rift.
Being a Maker may lead you to think of this in a different light. This isn’t just a peripheral for your computer on which you’ll enjoy experiences, this is an entirely new medium that is spawning marketplaces and budding artists. Makers will be sure to jump on board.
VR will bring new users seeking new experiences and development tools are free
Historically, the best tools for creating digital experiences have been prohibitively expensive. VR is not only opening up the types of experiences people want to have, but it has encouraged the tool creators to grow the community through free software. VR users want to see and explore new environments and the industry leaders such as Unreal Engine and Unity are letting you use their software for free to create those experiences.
You can download these tools, read some fancy tutorials, and be creating VR content in minutes!
The VR hardware market is growing fast
Later this year, the HTC Vive is expected to be released with the Playstation VR coming soon. One of the biggest factors in how immersive VR feels is in how your body interacts with the environment. There are only so many experiences you can have while you’re standing still or sitting in a chair. At some point you’re going to want to grab things, walk places, pick stuff up, smell smells, feel the heat of the sun on your skin. All of these things will have to be done by external hardware and right now, that market is beginning to explode. Cheap development boards and thorough tutorials allow us to connect our physical prototypes to the digital experience so much more easily than has ever been possible. A Maker can cobble together a prototype device in their homes and get in early in this budding ecosystem. The VR accessory market is something that many Makers will be experimenting with in the very near future.