Tonight I had a life changing experience…I tried virtual reality with Oculus Rift gear for the first time.
I was awestruck.
The only other introduction I’ve had to virtual reality (if you can call it that) is with a VR headset that I slip my phone into.
These aren’t even close to what the Oculus Rift is like.
The technology, and the experience is a lot better than I was expecting. It is a very immersive experience. I don’t own one myself yet because as I’ll explain below I don’t have a computer to run it. I’m very grateful to my friend though for letting me try his Oculus Rift.
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Table of Contents
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is where you feel immersed in a different reality created by a computer and you experience it through the headset.
The headset contains two screens (one for each eye) and ear phones for audio.
The dual eye screens provide a 3D effect so it really looks like you are “in the game.” When you turn your head the view changes as if you are inside the computer landscape. For instance if you are virtually on a bus looking straight ahead turning your head to the left will mean you’ll be looking out the bus windows.
The Oculus Rift has hand controllers that help you to grab, throw, point, etc…with your hands. Its a weird experience looking down and seeing your “virtual hands” in front of you and knowing that you really are holding your hands in front of you, but you see your virtual hands. And when you bring your hands closer to your face, the details of your virtual hands (such as texture of your gloves) becomes more vivid.
How do you run an Oculus Rift headset?
In order to power the crisp, fluid display of the dual eye screens that are both 1080 X 1200 px resolution with a frame refresh rate of 90Hz, it takes a powerful computer to run it.
Here is link to the Oculus Rift website where they list the Recommended Hardware Requirement for the Ocululs Rift and also the Minimum Hardware Requirements.
At this point in time, the actual headset and hand controllers are not ridiculously priced, but you need the powerful computer to run it.
When I went to a local computer store the owner told me I’d need at least an NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card in the computer. That exceeds the recommended 1060 listed on the Oculus website, but I guess if you want to stay ahead of the curve, or not worry about glitches then getting more than recommended is a smart idea.
Is your Computer Fast enough to run Oculus Rift?
I found something pretty cool on Amazon. If you are unsure if your computer can handle the computing demands of running the VR headset, they have a link to a compatibility checker.
My friend who owns the Oculus Rift had a few games for me to try.
This was my favourite game I’ve played so far. The premise is that robots have a glitch and they all turn against us.
The graphics were awesome. I loved the immersive environment. In one scene I was standing in an alley and I looked up into a second story window of a nearby building. I could see the texture of the ceiling panel in that room.
But you can’t really dawdle around because when I brought my attention back in front of me there were three robots coming to attack me. 🙂
Here is a YouTube trailer for the game.
Richie’s Plank Experience VR
When I brought my kids to my friend’s house to try VR, this is the first game I got them to try. It instantly shakes your perception of where you are. No longer are you comfortably standing in a living room: instead you are many floors above a city standing on nothing but a narrow wooden plank.
My kids were braver than I was. I took a few steps out on to the imaginary plank but then I moonwalked backward…I didn’t even want to turn around.
We played several other games too, including a fun archery game.
But what I was most impressed with was a feeling that this technology could and likely will change so many facets of our society. Games are just the start, but it has already started extending way beyond just games.
- In education we’ll be able to immerse ourselves in Ancient Egypt or Rome
- In medicine, surgeons will be able to virtually practice tricky surgeries over and over without having to risk a human
- Dangerous occupations will be able to train workers in a much safer way…prepare them for the danger before they actually face the consequences
I was so thankful to my friend for allowing me the opportunity to try virtual reality.
Maybe I’ve inspired you to try it too. There are virtual reality studios and game rooms popping up in cities. Google your city to see if you can try before you buy.
And if you want to read a good fictional book involving virtual reality, check out “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.
Spielberg has made it into a movie that is set to be released in 2018.