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The definition of virtual reality comes, naturally, from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. This could, of course, mean anything but it usually refers to a specific type of reality emulation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jobzDDtr1sI&t=1s
Samsung’s approach to VR was different right from the beginning, and the Gear VR was an impressive piece of tech when it was first released in November of 2015. The Gear VR was a far more common sight than an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive in 2016 and 2017, largely because Samsung often gave the device away free with the purchase of a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Samsung’s VR HMD delivers a stripped-down VR experience, using Oculus head-tracking technology in combination with Android smartphones to power mobile VR experiences. Instead of dedicated display technology, lenses allow the phone’s screen to act as a stereoscopic display, making the device simpler and less expensive than other options. Samsung has added hand controllers to the Gear VR experience, bringing it more in line with current VR content.
Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as a virtual reality.
Standalone headsets were at first a useful novelty that offered a taste of VR without an investment into a gaming PC or a flagship phone. The Oculus Go and the Lenovo Mirage Solo are both capable headsets that work well on their own, but they have the same limited controls as mobile headsets. The recently released Oculus Quest, however, has really sold us on this category. The Quest uses similar outward-facing cameras to the new Rift S to provide 6DOF motion tracking, and uses the same Oculus Touch motion controls. Combined with a faster Snapdragon 835 processor compared with the Oculus Go's Snapdragon 821, the Quest offers a much more compelling and immersive VR experience, all without the unwieldy cable or PC requirement of the Rift S. We hope to see more standalone 6DOF, dual motion controller headsets in the future, like the upcoming HTC Vive Focus Plus.
The Oculus Touch controllers have made a world of difference since their arrival. Compared to the other headsets' controllers, they're our favourite – they conform to your hand and allow for some finger recognition, like a thumbs-up. Not just that, but when it comes to games Oculus has come on leaps and bounds. That's been largely helped by some developer cash injections from Facebook, giving us quality, polished titles like Lone Echo and Robo Recall. Room-scale support has been added too, though you'll need to purchase at least one additional sensor to get it to Vive-level tracking, and even then the Vive tracking experience is a little better in our experience. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/GKK-Case-for-Huawei-Honor-Play-8X-Max-10-Lite-Case-360-Protection-3-in-1/32904184391.html
The Oculus Rift was the first big name in the current wave of VR, and Oculus is still a major player. The Rift S has a higher resolution than the Vive (but not as high as the Vive Pro or, strangely, the Oculus Quest) and newer and lighter Oculus Touch motion controllers, and doesn't need external sensors to work. It does, however, need DisplayPort; if your PC only has an HDMI output, you might want to hunt for the previous Rift and deal with the extra cables. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Viper-Panoramic-Lens-360-Degrees-Capturing-Camera-AR-VR-Wide-Angle-Fisheye-Lens-Panoclip-for-iPhone/32891616697.html

After doing this over and over, revision after revision, eventually I have a final draft to export. In the export window, it is important that I ensure the “VR” is still enabled. What this does is put that specification in the metadata file so that sites like YouTube and Vimeo know to play it as 360° VR footage. Then I can upload it and ensure the playback is the way I want it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkIg-SxPzTA&t=1s

This is more difficult than it sounds, since our senses and brains are evolved to provide us with a finely synchronised and mediated experience. If anything is even a little off we can usually tell. This is where you’ll hear terms such as immersiveness  and realism enter the conversation. These issues that divide convincing or enjoyable virtual reality experiences from jarring or unpleasant ones are partly technical and partly conceptual. Virtual reality technology needs to take our physiology into account. For example, the human visual field does not look like a video frame. We have (more or less) 180 degrees of vision and although you are not always consciously aware of your peripheral vision, if it were gone you’d notice. Similarly when what your eyes and the vestibular system in your ears tell you are in conflict it can cause motion sickness. Which is what happens to some people on boats or when they read while in a car. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/SDETER-Bulb-Lamp-Wireless-IP-Camera-Wifi-960P-Panoramic-FishEye-Home-Security-CCTV-Camera-360-Degree/32839173184.html
HTC's Vive is a comprehensive package that includes a headset, two motion controllers, and two base stations for defining a "whole-room" VR area. It's technically impressive, and can track your movements in a 10-foot cube instead of just from your seat. It also includes a set of motion controllers more advanced than the PlayStation Move. PC-tethered VR systems like the Vive need plenty of power, with HTC recommending at least an Intel Core i5-4590 CPU and a GeForce GTX 970 GPU. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmCYZZwO3hg&t=1s
The NBA has long been interested in virtual reality and 360 filmmaking, so it's no surprise that it would decide to take one of the most exciting events on All Star Weekend, the Dunk Contest, and turn it into a 360 video. In this case, you'll get to see all the dunks of winner Donovan Mitchell. Sit courtside as this mountain of a man charges to the hoop and seemingly defies the laws of physics. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1PCS-Transmission-Solenoid-Valve-OEM-46313-3B030-463133B030-9360930002/32835810874.html
There are few worse feelings than putting on a VR headset and having someone else's sweat drip down your face. That's why, if you're likely to be sharing your headset with others, we'd recommend some sort of cover. The company VR Cover does exactly what it suggests, selling covers for the Rift, Vive, Gear VR and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. You can get a couple of machine-washable covers or, if you prefer, some cheaper disposable ones.
HTC's Vive is a comprehensive package that includes a headset, two motion controllers, and two base stations for defining a "whole-room" VR area. It's technically impressive, and can track your movements in a 10-foot cube instead of just from your seat. It also includes a set of motion controllers more advanced than the PlayStation Move. PC-tethered VR systems like the Vive need plenty of power, with HTC recommending at least an Intel Core i5-4590 CPU and a GeForce GTX 970 GPU. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ0fKW5PttM&t=1s
It's not without issues though. We've already discussed VR exercise equipment as a promising concept let down by being such an expensive, bulky and sweaty process. But if you really want to "get in" the game, and you have space, hopping into an Omni could be pretty neat. We've tried it since its early days at CES and it's been able to stick it out through the years, improving the base, harness and shoes to ensure the best possible experience. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Wonder-girl-250-Density-Remy-360-Lace-Frontal-Wig-With-Baby-Hair-Peruvian-Straight-Lace-Front/32850163634.html

Sony’s entry into the market is the lowest powered of the three best-selling VR HMDs, but the PSVR has a big advantage over the Rift and Vive. Because it’s tethered to the Playstation 4 gaming system, there was an enormous, pre-existing user base of 10s of millions of gamers, many of whom were eager to try their hand at VR. Because that user base already had a PS4, Sony’s customers didn’t have to purchase/upgrade their computer hardware, making the PSVR the most “affordable” of the high-end HMDs. As such, the PSVR is the best-selling Virtual Reality HMD on the market, moving over 4 million units since its initial release, and showing that, if nothing else, VR gaming is here to stay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au5ro1NOnhI&t=1s
Windows Mixed Reality is aimed at creating a more affordable version of high-end VR, and many of the headsets are built to run in two modes: one for PCs with dedicated graphics cards and one for PCs with integrated graphics. Many of these headsets start around $300, but at the top of the pile is the Samsung Odyssey. It has built-in spatial headphones from AKG, two 1400 X 1600 AMOLED displays, and a 110-degree field of view. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/360-Degree-Universal-Car-Phone-Holder-Magnetic-Air-Vent-Mount-Cell-Phone-Car-Mobile-Phone-Holder/32689033913.html

The Vive Pro sports a 2,880 x 1,600 resolution on a dual-OLED display, up from the Vive's 2,160 x 1,200 resolution. There's also dual cameras on the front that'll help track your hands and a 90Hz refresh rate with 70 sensors, giving you 360-degree head-tracking. It's not a leap to say that the Vive Pro is a monster. This is easily the most advanced VR headset out there, but it's also incredibly expensive, sitting at £799. If you don't need that added clarity, the Vive has all the same tricks.
According to CEO Stanislas Chesnais, the 3DRudder was designed for "existing games where two hands aren't enough [for] VR, where you don't actually have any solutions today to move in a nice way while sitting." A circular device that you control with both feet by tilting in the direction you want to move, the 3DRudder's latency-free design means that response to your movements is instant and requires little thought. "It's like in real life," says Chesnais. "When you do something [like] set the table… you don't think about your feet moving around. Your hands are what matter."
Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as a virtual reality.
The Oculus Rift was the first big name in the current wave of VR, and Oculus is still a major player. The Rift S has a higher resolution than the Vive (but not as high as the Vive Pro or, strangely, the Oculus Quest) and newer and lighter Oculus Touch motion controllers, and doesn't need external sensors to work. It does, however, need DisplayPort; if your PC only has an HDMI output, you might want to hunt for the previous Rift and deal with the extra cables. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgdo7-RRjgo&t=1s
While they can offer a taste of VR, mobile headsets don't provide the full experience. They tend to offer three-degrees-of-freedom (3DOF) motion tracking, following your direction but not your position. They also only come with one motion controller, which is also 3DOF-only. You don't get the same immersiveness you do with six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) motion tracking and dual motion controllers, which might be why Google and Samsung have been largely quiet lately about their mobile headsets. The Nintendo Labo VR Kit is its own unique case, but it's more of a novelty for Switch owners. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVnHZ5SF1Jg&t=1s
However, because the Lighthouse sensors need good vantage points to track all your head and hand movements, it means mounting them up high. This makes setup for the Vive a bit convoluted compared to, say, the Rift or PSVR. For the Rift, you can just plop down the sensors on a desk, though to get the same 360 tracking you'll need to buy an extra sensor (the Touch bundle gets you two). However, when you get Lighthouse all ready the effect is next-level – enough to make using the PlayStation VR or Rift feel like a step back at times. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Insta360-ONE-4-Karat-360-VR-Video-Sport-Action-Kamera-24MP-Kugel-Zeit-6-achsen-Gyroskop/32836758396.html
Expand your media adventures and social gaming communities with accessories and peripherals created for virtual reality. For example, a VR controller offers seamless integration with virtual reality games to give you more control over your virtual environment. Beyond PC gaming, virtual reality experiences also encompass other forms of video. Virtual reality-compatible cameras capable of filming in 360 degrees offer you the chance to view and edit your footage, along with other VR-ready components. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a54H2V06dqw&t=1s
Special input devices are required for interaction with the virtual world. These include the 3D mouse, the wired glove, motion controllers, and optical tracking sensors. Controllers typically use optical tracking systems (primarily infrared cameras) for location and navigation, so that the user can move freely without wiring. Some input devices provide the user with force feedback to the hands or other parts of the body, so that the human being can orientate himself in the three-dimensional world through haptics and sensor technology as a further sensory sensation and carry out realistic simulations. Additional haptic feedback can be obtained from omnidirectional treadmills (with which walking in virtual space is controlled by real walking movements) and vibration gloves and suits. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/100-OEM-NEW-Power-Supply-for-Xbox-360-Charger-For-xbox-Item-NO-PXB005-Internal-Wholesales/32297418013.html

There remains a significant amount of confusion about the differences between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. (Check out our exhaustive primers on Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality for an in-depth look at the differences.) The public seems to think that AR is a phone experience, while only VR requires an HMD. Mixed Reality devices like the Microsoft Hololens use a headset to overlay 3D imagery on top of the real world. Very cool, but not Virtual Reality. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYoKN0FOSrHo1qf4ZqlM2CA


We know the world through our senses and perception systems. In school we all learned that we have five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. These are however only our most obvious sense organs. The truth is that humans have many more senses than this, such as a sense of balance for example. These other sensory inputs, plus some special processing of sensory information by our brains ensures that we have a rich flow of information from the environment to our minds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QdPW8JrYzQ&t=1s


The Oculus Touch controllers have made a world of difference since their arrival. Compared to the other headsets' controllers, they're our favourite – they conform to your hand and allow for some finger recognition, like a thumbs-up. Not just that, but when it comes to games Oculus has come on leaps and bounds. That's been largely helped by some developer cash injections from Facebook, giving us quality, polished titles like Lone Echo and Robo Recall. Room-scale support has been added too, though you'll need to purchase at least one additional sensor to get it to Vive-level tracking, and even then the Vive tracking experience is a little better in our experience. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/360-VR-1080P-HD-16GB-Wifi-IP-Camera-Panoramic-Smart-LED-Lights-Bulb-Camera-Video-Surveillance/32794405770.html

From the different headsets we've tested, the hardware is sound and the setup is simple, but position tracking isn't as accurate as tethered headsets with external sensors or the Rift S' new outward-facing tracking cameras. Also, the Windows Mixed Reality store doesn't have as many compelling VR experiences as the Rift and SteamVR stores, though you can use SteamVR games on Windows Mixed Reality headsets, again with some software wrestling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvCKXADeW34&t=1s
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