Virtual reality (VR) has been a subject of discussion since the heyday of science fiction in the 1950s. Science fiction writers and storytellers had different versions of what a virtual world would look like and of how people would interact with each other. From the 1951 Ray Bradbury story ‘The Veld‘to the phenomenal of William Gibson’Neuromancer‘, writers have created diverse and exciting virtual worlds.
With the rapid technological developments of the 21st century, these virtual worlds no longer seem out of reach. The rise of VR headsets like Oculus, HTC Vive, and PSVR (PlayStation VR) has actually led to the spread of virtual reality devices, just like smartphones, televisions, and personal computers.
With companies like Meta and Microsoft announcing plans to invest in metavers or 3D virtual environments, virtual reality will play an even bigger role in the near future.
How to start in the virtual world?
A virtual reality or VR headset can help you take the first step into the virtual world. A VR headset is a device that you wear like glasses on your head to enjoy a 180-degree or 360-degree field of view in a virtual world. The virtual world can be a movie, a simulated experience, or a video game. It is a medium where you can take a close look at the world around you and feel like you are there.
For example, there are VR videos on YouTube of people doing roller coasters. When you wear a VR headset, you feel like you are on a roller coaster yourself, experiencing exactly the same sensations you would have while physically enjoying a roller coaster ride.
There are several VR devices on the market that you can buy. The more expensive they are, the better the quality and number of pixels you get. But there are also affordable headsets that you can clip to your smartphones.
Are there other VR accessories that are needed?
While you are ready to enjoy virtual reality with a simple headset, you can also enhance your experiences in the simulated world by adding a few accessories such as hand controllers and treadmills.
Manual controllers allow you to interact with the virtual world using your hand. You can pick up items or press buttons in virtual worlds using manual controllers. Manual controllers are an optional purchase for a customer as they are not required to experience VR, but they are essential if you plan to play VR video games.
Treadmills are a bit of a luxury purchase as they are literally giant treadmills that you walk on. The treadmill allows a virtual reality user to walk in the virtual world without actually moving around in the real physical world, which could be harmful.
So if you just want to experience the virtual world without making a big investment, simple VR headsets should suffice.
Are there specific types of VR headsets?
The helmets available in the market can be broadly divided into three categories.
Computer-powered headsets are the most powerful and will give you the most immersive experience with the highest pixel count. They are also the most expensive helmets on the market. You need to connect these headsets to a powerful PC that can handle the power required to operate the headset. Usually you need a sturdy platform even for using VR headsets. Some examples are Oculus and HTC Vive. Their price ranges from $ 300 to $ 800, depending on the model.
Mobile VR headsets are the cheapest alternative. These are affordable headsets that you can clip to your phones and then clip to your face. They aren’t as powerful or immersive as computer-powered headsets, but they can be a good place to start. Some examples are Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR. Their price ranges from $ 15 to $ 100, depending on the model.
Console-powered VR headsets are an emerging VR market as the only VR headset in existence is Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR). The headset is connected to a PlayStation 4 and can be played using the PlayStation controller. Sony plans to release a VR headset for its latest console, PS5, in 2022. You can buy a PSVR for $ 400.