Over time mankind has been slowly but surely creating ever richer ways to stimulate our senses. In 1960, the first VR Head Mounted Device (HMD) emerged. Things really began to take off in the 20th century, with advent of electronics and computer technology. The computational power increased in the last 40 years from huge machines stored in big warehouses to your powerful smartphones that resides in your pocket today. The huge computational power in your smartphones and high-end gaming machines made Virtual Reality a possibility. But, this has confused VR startups to try and make their dreams a reality, so which one should you choose wireless VR (mobile VR) or tethered VR (Oculus Rift or HTC VIVE).
Finding the right HMD can be very confusing when you are starting off, as both mobile and tethered VR have pros and cons.
Lets start with Tethered VR
There are two major platforms in tethered VR: Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Developing a VR application/game is really daunting as the technology is still new and the developer has to take care of optimization as for both the platforms, the application must work, on an average, at 90 fps otherwise the user will suffer from simulator sickness or vestibular mismatch. i.e discrepancy between the motion in the simulation and the motion that the user expects. In simple words, we can say vestibular mismatch is similar to a car simulator as your body is still but the environment is in fast motion. All said, in 2017 with the Nvidia’s pascal series cards, maintaining 90 hertz is very much do-able with proper optimization and best practices. If you are making a game and it has a great storyline and gameplay to follow you can use desktop based Virtual Reality as it supports Real Time Global Illumination which means you can get your scene close to reality. You are not limited to number of drawcalls so you can create realistic terrain and buildings. Currently desktop grade VR has hand tracked input controllers, so you can now simulate real world actions such as opening a door just like you do in real life which can take immersion level to next level. You can also use room scale VR which allows users to freely walk around a play area, with their real-life motion reflected in the VR environment. This room scale VR is now supported with steam VR sdk and with proper coding it will take the experience to next level. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both have 110-degree field of view which is great for user’s immersion level as they have more space to look around in the virtual environment.
In the next part we will cover Mobile Virtual Reality and see how it compares to Desktop grade VR.