Nintendo's Labo series of games/arts-and-crafts sets for the Nintendo Switch have interested us since the first Labo Variety Kit came out. You build your own controllers with cardboard and play games using the Switch and motion-sensing Joy-Con controllers. Now Nintendo has returned to VR (a field it hasn't set foot in since the ill-fated Virtual Boy) with its fourth Labo package, the Labo VR Kit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3UGqoGlmIs&t=1s
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
Morton Heilig wrote in the 1950s of an "Experience Theatre" that could encompass all the senses in an effective manner, thus drawing the viewer into the onscreen activity. He built a prototype of his vision dubbed the Sensorama in 1962, along with five short films to be displayed in it while engaging multiple senses (sight, sound, smell, and touch). Predating digital computing, the Sensorama was a mechanical device. Heilig also developed what he referred to as the "Telesphere Mask" (patented in 1960). The patent application described the device as "a telescopic television apparatus for individual use...The spectator is given a complete sensation of reality, i.e. moving three dimensional images which may be in colour, with 100% peripheral vision, binaural sound, scents and air breezes." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFSuajyJcwY&t=1s
The Labo VR Kit has you building a mobile VR headset out of cardboard, like the older Google Cardboard headsets, which you insert the Nintendo Switch into. You then build other controllers, like a camera or a blaster, and attach them to the headset to play games. It's fun and engaging, but even with an impressive game development kit in the software, it's ultimately just a novelty. The Labo VR Kit mostly provides 3DOF motion control, even if it uses the Joy-Cons' motion sensors in some very clever ways (one controller creates a triangulated 6DOF motion control system using both Joy-Cons in tandem), and the Switch's 720p screen offers some of the simplest and grainiest VR graphics we've seen in years. It scores so highly with us because as its own product, a crafts kit for kids who want to learn about VR and game development, it's excellent. It just isn't a feasible VR platform like the other systems discussed here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBGpU3Wo0zs&t=1s
The Oculus Quest costs twice as much as the Oculus Go, but it's well worth it. It has a more powerful Snapdragon 835 processor and a sharper OLED screen, but more importantly it offers full 6DOF motion tracking with dual motion controls. In fact, it uses the same Oculus Touch controllers as the Oculus Rift S. It's limited to Oculus' mobile software store, like the Oculus Go, so it won't provide the same selection as the PC-based Rift S and its much bigger Oculus Store. Still, there are already some very compelling experiences on it, like Beat Saber and Superhot VR, that make it well worth your attention.
If the last applies to you, you're likely a computer scientist or engineer, many of whom now avoid the words virtual reality even while they work on technologies most of us associate with VR. Today, you're more likely to hear someone use the words virtual environment (VE) to refer to what the public knows as virtual reality. We'll use the terms interchangeably in this article. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Insta360-Pro-8K-360-VR-Video-Camera-4K-100fps-Slow-Motion-Anti-shake-Panoramic-Camera-VR/32832297122.html
While audio-visual information is most easily replicated in Virtual Reality, active research and development efforts are still being conducted into the other senses. Tactile inputs such as omnidirectional treadmills allow users to feel as though they’re actually walking through a simulation, rather than sitting in a chair or on a couch. Haptic technologies, also known as kinesthetic or touch feedback tech, have progressed from simple spinning-weight “rumble” motors to futuristic ultrasound technology. It is now possible to hear and feel true-to-life sensations along with visual VR experiences. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6pWEzkbnDE&t=1s
The two images are then stitched together on the computer just after import. The stitched image (looks like the thumbnail for the above video) is called “equirectangular” format and looks like all 360° got compressed into a single 16:9 frame. Viewers and websites such as YouTube and Vimeo can detect this kind of footage in the file metadata and display it in VR form.
Virtual reality sickness (also known as cybersickness) occurs when a person's exposure to a virtual environment causes symptoms that are similar to motion sickness symptoms. Women are significantly more affected than men by headset-induced symptoms, at rates of around 77% and 33% respectively. The most common symptoms are general discomfort, headache, stomach awareness, nausea, vomiting, pallor, sweating, fatigue, drowsiness, disorientation, and apathy. For example, Nintendo's Virtual Boy received much criticism for its negative physical effects, including "dizziness, nausea, and headaches". These motion sickness symptoms are caused by a disconnect between what is being seen and what the rest of the body perceives. When the vestibular system, the body's internal balancing system, does not experience the motion that it expects from visual input through the eyes, the user may experience VR sickness. This can also happen if the VR system does not have a high enough frame rate, or if there is a lag between the body's movement and the onscreen visual reaction to it. Because approximately 25–40% of people experience some kind of VR sickness when using VR machines, companies are actively looking for ways to reduce VR sickness.
Bottom line, if you're looking for a VR experience that's closer to the Rift and the Vive without the big price tag and the setup, this is the one you want. The room tracking is fantastic, the controllers are the best we've used and while it won't play all of the top end Rift games, there's a good collection of games and experiences to try out already that will hopefully grow over the coming months. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QDXfgbKKf0&t=1s
Basically, these AR headsets have transparent lenses that let you look at your surroundings, instead of completely replacing your vision with a computer-generated image. They can still project images over whatever you're looking at, but those images are designed to complement and interact with the area around you. You can make a web browser pop up in the middle of a room, for instance, or watch animals run around your coffee table. It's fascinating technology that could hint at the future of computing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhNJunz5Dh4&t=1s
Multi-Functional Systems: Many of our Virtual Reality PCs do more than let you play the latest games. They let you work productively, use state-of-the-art software and connect with friends, family, and other gamers in a myriad of ways. With the ability to use your VR system for all that you do, it's the ultimate technology for your workday and your downtime.
In Virtual Reality, the computer uses similar sensors and math. However, rather than locating a real camera within a physical environment, the position of the user’s eyes are located within the simulated environment. If the user’s head turns, the graphics react accordingly. Rather than compositing virtual objects and a real scene, VR technology creates a convincing, interactive world for the user. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGZuH6B46H8&t=1s
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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rdY6_AZWXk&t=1s
I knew the new year would come with new opportunities and new experiences, but I didn’t expect that just 1 week after New Years I would be told I had 2 weeks to create a 360° VR promo video for the construction company that does nationwide remodels of companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chipotle, Chili’s, Home Depot, Walgreens, etc. This was a pretty big deal, and I had very little time to gather my thoughts, find models, locations, confirm scripts, shoot, and then edit (especially considering 360° shooting and editing was new to me). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObptpVRe6ek&t=1s
If you have compatible phones, these headsets offer functional 3DOF VR experiences for just $60 to $130. You slide your phone into one, put it on your head, and start tapping away with the included remote. It's interesting, but underwhelming next to tethered and 6DOF standalone VR experiences. Perhaps we'll see some 6DOF updates, but we aren't counting on it.
Alright, I’m going to walk you through my specific process, although some people may do things in a slightly different order. Let’s jump back to the import. The camera I used records to 2 separate Micro SD cards, so I have to import both. In the “Ingested Footage” folder for that day’s shoot, I put a folder for one card, “Front” and one card, “Back”. Then I use the stitching software and export final stitches for every clip to a third folder I call “Stitched”. Then I dropped each of those stitched files into Adobe After Effects and mask myself, other, gear, and tripod out of the shot. This way I have clean video with only the model in it. I export these as individual files as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzc7oZVIwfc&t=1s
Will Greenwald has been covering consumer technology for a decade, and has served on the editorial staffs of CNET.com, Sound & Vision, and Maximum PC. His work and analysis has been seen in GamePro, Tested.com, Geek.com, and several other publications. He currently covers consumer electronics in the PC Labs as the in-house home entertainment expert... See Full Bio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKZ65RpueMI&t=1s