Over the last few years there have been a number of interesting hardware platforms that have emerged in the 3D, 360°, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality media spaces (i.e. Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Vive, Hololens etc.). It’s been fascinating to watch things unfold, and it’s only now at the end of 2016 that things are starting to settle down into a more traditional consumer market in which you can buy what you want when you want it at places like Best Buy or Amazon. This video provides a summary of how things stand today.
In honor of the release of the Playstation VR on October 13th, a number of news outlets released handy dandy summaries about all of the current VR headsets. The Ultimate Virtual Reality Buyer’s Guide (Lisa Eadicicco, Time)
First Click: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR? (Thomas Ricker, The Verge)
There’s a lot going on still, but something else has quietly emerged over the last year. A great deal of the most interesting content is authored in the Unity3D or Unreal game engines that both provide the ability to create and publish the same content for multiple platforms. Platforms that release titles for just their own systems receive significant backlash, so there is probably going to be more and more cross-platform availability.
Better yet, YouTube 360° previews or full titles are also often released with major titles, so the content can be viewed with a simple browser on your computer or phone. For example, this Samsung 360° Gear VR Trailer gives someone without a Gear VR the exact same introductory video that they can see using a Gear VR. Notice that you can click and drag to get a sense of how it looks in 3D.
In addition, with just a bit more investment you can get an added degree of immersion by using Google Cardboard or View-Master’s VR Viewer. Check out “The List” page on this site to see the types of things you can see with varying levels of fidelity ranging from no special hardware all the way up to the most expensive headsets. Here are links to the current platforms ranging from low-end web to high-end Rift and Vive.