Virtual Reality: The Future Is Now

Who would have thought that the future would come as soon as 2016? Well, we don’t have flying cars yet or teleportation devices, but we’re somewhere at least.

Ever wanted to be part of a video game and be the main character throughout the whole story, or just wanted to visit Italy but don’t have the money to do so? Virtual reality, a concept and now a real thing has quickly gained traction in most recent years with many developers that can help fulfil your virtual reality desires.

Virtual reality is a software engineered artificial environment that allows the player to be in any real life situation at any given moment. Typically a headset is placed on the person’s head accompanied with headphones that will allow that user to fully immerse themselves into a whole new world and reality. You can be anything you want to be: a pirate, an astronaut on the way to Mars or use multiple art programs like Google’s Tilt Brush to bring your imagination to life.

VR has been something that has been attempted multiple times throughout the last few decades and was something only heard of in science-fiction tales.

The most famous flop, but closest to what VR is now comes from “Nintendo”, the Virtual Boy. This VR machine from “Nintendo” was the first “portable” VR console that displayed 3D graphics when played on. The Virtual Boy proved to be a huge failure in Japan and North America and was not released anywhere for that matter. The negative reception stayed the same despite the price drops from $179.95. The Virtual Boy this became the second lowest-selling platform from “Nintendo” after the 64DD.

Since then, technology and the overall understanding of VR has significantly improved over the past few decades and are now at a point where the high quality VR product can be obtainable by the average consumer and transport them to another reality.

Just be clear on this topic, VR isn’t just isolated towards gaming development. VR can also be used to enhance other forms of media in your everyday life. Take for example, movies and TV shows. I believe that VR can be much more useful on other aspects of entertainment and will convince many non-gamers to look into purchasing the product.

Many people on this campus saw the Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton last week. I stumbled upon an article on Kotaku where Altspace and NBC News hosted a “watch party” for the first Trump-Clinton debate. Although the article describes the whole experience to be a bust, the concept and idea behind it was really interesting.

When going into this watch party, avatars of other people around the world could be seen watching the presidential debate on a huge flat screen stream in the air. You could listen to other people’s conversations in real time as they discussed the debate and gave their own opinions on the matter. This absolutely left me cheerful and ready for VR.

One of my most memorable moments when I realized that VR will be the next home device for the family. I came across a video about a elderly woman that would never be able to travel back to her homeland due to health issues. With the use of a VR headset, her family was able to grant this elderly woman’s wish of seeing her homeland at least once more in her lifetime without even leaving her living room.

The top companies that as of now dominate the VR scene are “Oculus Rift”, “PlayStation” VR and the “HTC Vive”. With “Oculus Rift” being the first of its kind to initially reveal itself to the public and set forth the path of “VR” and teaming up with Facebook, “HTC Vive” being the competitor of the “Oculus Rift” and getting support from Valve’s Steam site and the much more affordable option of the “PlayStation” VR set to hit stores this month on the 13, there is a good selection to choose from.

In terms of price, the “Oculus Rift” will get you started with a price of $599 ready to be plugged into a compatible computer. The same goes to the “HTC Vive”, setting the customer to pay just a bit more with a whopping $799 price tag, but that does come included with what many say an overall better build and two accompanying controllers which the “Oculus Rift” won’t have until later notice. Then you have your “PlayStation”, the cheapest of the three at $399 if you already own a PS4 and will be the easiest to set up and immerse yourself into VR.

I would recommend many of my college friends to start out with the “PlayStation” VR if you are of the tiniest bit skeptical about the whole Virtual Reality concept. You won’t be spending as much money compared to the other VR devices out there, but you can still enjoy the full experience of VR from Sony with a good lineup of games and applications coming out on launch.

Virtual reality has come a long way in terms of quality since the Virtual Boy. As the year comes to a close for the technology industry, many developers and companies are ready in anticipation to reveal the real power behind VR and blow away the general public. The time for virtual reality to make its impact on the world has come. I know I’m ready for the future, are you?

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