Virtual reality, possibilities and own experiences

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I got chance to try out virtual reality during my tet-period at Leonidas, the devices i used were the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Both had their own advantages and disadvantages, but what are their possibilities and how would I rate them?

The Oculus Rift looked intimidating at first glance, they were like big goggles with a massive black box one them strapped onto your head with some headphones attached to them. The first thing you’ll find out is that you need to be sitting or standing while using them. There is a small sensor in front of you that will sense movement. I got to try 2 games on the Oculus Rift, Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie. Lucky’s Tale was a simple platformer game but in VR! The character was controlled with a standard xbox controller, you could adjust the camera angle by turning your head. The game was pretty average and I think you could do something better with VR. The other game, EVE: Valkyrie, was about flying a spaceship and trying to shoot other spaceships. You really felt like you were flying. This game also used a controller, again you could turn the camera by turning your head. The game made you fell a little dizzy after playing a while because you feel like you are moving but you’re actually not. This could be used to perhaps train pilots. EVE: Valkyrie was definitely a more exciting experience than Lucky’s Tale. I think the Oculus Rift would better be used in something where you are still, like analysing a 3d design, looking at tourist attractions from the comfort of your home or watching films in virtual reality.

The HTC Vive in the other hand was meant to be used while moving. You could also use your hands with controller sticks, one for each hand. This device had 2 bigger sensors on both sides of the room you want to be playing in. You had a similar headset as the Oculus Rift, but you need separate headphones. One downside was that there was a wire coming out of the headset that was always at your feet. On the newer models however it is possible to have it wireless. The games I tried were: Space Pirate Trainer, Google’s Tilt Brush and Google Earth. Tilt Brush was a drawing type of game, the controller sticks worked as the paint brush and a colour palette, nothing very complicated but definitely fun. Google Earth was also possible to be used in virtual reality. It was nothing very different from the original Google Earth but it was cool looking at 3d models of cities. Now Space Pirate Trainer was an interesting game. The idea of the game was to survive against robots that shoot you and shoot back. You could swap your gun for a shield by waving your hand behind your back. Though the game was repetitive it really got you moving each time as you could also dodge shots. Out of these three games Space Pirate Trainer was the best. HTC Vive was definitely more fun because you were able to use your hands and move around, it does take more space than the Oculus Rift though. I think HTC Vive is more capable of running games and there is more possibilities with it.

I think there’s quite a bit of possibilities with these devices. Gaming will potentially be the biggest target for virtual reality devices, but the equipment can be a bit expensive for everyday households for now. Other than entertainment they could be used in training people in certain dangerous fields like medicine, architecture or law enforcement, or used in other types of education. They could also be used to visit places that would normally be too difficult to visit, or you can use them in things that are not possible for you like taking a trip to the moon.

Some downsides are that you are not able to experience this if you can’t afford it, you also need a powerful enough computer to run virtual reality games. There are cheap alternatives for your phone that just require a cardboard frame and lenses but they aren’t nearly as good. The technology behind virtual reality is still developing and is by all means not perfect. Some people might get motion sick from virtual reality devices.

Overall, I think virtual reality is a nice refreshing invention, though it is a bit expensive. I recommend you give it a go whenever you get the chance. You can try virtual reality yourself at Virtual Reality Finland ry http://vrfinland.fi/fi/virtual-reality-immersion-lounge/

Paavo Pyykkö