Virtual Reality sounded like science fiction in the 80s, and managed a brief fling with consumer popularity in the 90s through arcade experiences and Nintendo’s failed Virtual Boy. It peeked out again in the early 2000s but failed to keep up with PC and console graphics as they roared to new heights of complexity.
With a host of vendors pushing new, powerful wares, is VR back for good this time around? Sony’s Project Morpheus, Samsung’s Gear VR (working with a Galaxy Note 4), Oculus Rift (on PC) and other products are preparing for an onslaught in 2015. Instead of focusing on PC, they’ll be hooking up to your games console, tablet, set-top box and probably your TV for a mega-screen experience.
This new generation started in the crowd-funding market of Kickstarter thanks to Oculus Rift, with geek interest rocketing all the way to a $2 billion buy-out from Facebook. Sony has been quietly tinkering away with the technology for years, but it took the power of PlayStation 4 to make it a reality. And new players like Facebook and Samsung will all be looking for an edge to their technology in the coming years.
VR back on many fronts
This multi-format and multi-function push could be key to seeing VR succeed this time around. All kinds of buyers might be interested in giving it a spin, as long as the price is reasonable and there are a range of fun, cool and new things to do.
Whatever your previous experience of VR, the new tech looks mighty impressive. While no one is talking resolution and 3D features yet, the issues that made it fail in the past seem to have been resolved with smooth motion to counter motion-sickness and more realistic looking visuals driven by the PC/console/gadget.
Sony’s recent demo at Tokyo Games Show of a first Morpheus project in action suggests there’s plenty to be excited about, with a detailed character to interact with. If you follow the early coders with Oculus Rift dev kits, they’re showing all kinds of cool projects in motion from lunar landers to arcade classics.
All that’s left is the drive to the first launches in 2015 with games, apps and content to ensure buyers aren’t left wondering what all the fuss is about, again!