From a Gadget to a Mainstream Product: Is VR coming big times this winter?


Everybody’s doing it: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, HTC - they’re all happily hopping on the VR train. And it’s running… it’s running really fast! Billions of dollars invested and the whole thing became bigger than anyone would ever have thought a few years age. A gadget targeted only for gamers and geeks? But i think - like other technologies, evolved and pushed by the game industry - virtual reality is here to stay.

And here are 4 reasons why VR will be a thing.

Competition

All the big players will be running for the favor of each and every potential buyer. The market will be hardly fought by facebooks occolus, microsofts holo lens, sony’s morpheus, HTC’s Vive and many other biggies at approximately the same time which means the marketing budget will be enormous! I can already see wallpapers showing on times square, tv ads and webbanner spreading.

Content

It has already began. More and more 360 videos are hitting youtube day by day. Bjork and avici released their new singles as 360 VR videos as early adapters. Also hyped by the GoPro and super popular at the moment: headmounted 360 movies showing wingsuits flights or skateboard rides which are quite immersive. Then there are dozens of drones or cockpit cameras clips. It’s just a matter of time until the film industry will pick up this new potential of film-making and storytelling.

Costs

By strapping your own smartphone in front of your forehead you can buy an adequate VR set for less than 20$ on amazon or even build your own Goggles. Googles strategy in this case is to be as open as possible. You can download prints for cardboard cutouts directly from their developer page to tinker your very own VR Device. All you need is a compatible smartphone - even iPhones are supported. The bigger the screen the better. High tech for everyone with a reasonable price. This formula will surely work.

Creativity

The new possibilities are endless. Think of a live stream of a formula 1 race inside a cockpit or a skype meeting, with your own 3d scanned avatar in a digital conference room on top of mount everest? New businesses dedicated to VR only are spreading all over silicon valley offering not only development services but also services like filming or creating accessories and cameras.

VR Sets for mobile phones

Since we are focusing here on mobile, i listed a few available VR-Sets running on smartphone devices:

1. Google Cardboard / I am Cardboard

Costs: 5-40$
Availability: in stores
External Input: Magnetic switcher
www.google.com/get/cardboard/

This is the most affordable way to experience VR. The assembly takes just a few minutes and there are videos and step-by-step instructions online available. You can set up your device with an online-app. Depending on the model and device you have a magnetic switcher at the side of your goggles wich acts as an input event.

2. Samsung Gear VR

Costs: 200$

Availability: in stores
External Input: Touchpad
www.occolus.com/gear-vr/

This device is the first real VR Set available on the retail market and works only paired with a samsung Galaxy Note or Samsung Galaxy S6/Edge. It’s quite comfortable to wear and the quality seems good. There is a touchpad on the right side of the device which detects swipes gestures and taps. The lack of content, since samsung got it’s own „VR-Store“, is quite disappointing at the moment.

3. VR One Zeiss

Costs: 130$

Availability:shipping now
External Input: None
www.zeissvrone.tumblr.com

The individual smartphone trays supports quite a lot of devices like iPhone6 and Samsung S5. There are 3d-printable data online to support even more phones. The lack of an input clicker makes it unable to use the google cardboard apps. With a little tinkering you can attach those magnets by yourself if you want.

4. Durovis Dive 5 or 7

Costs: 50-90$

Availability: in stores
External Input: None
www.durovis.com

You have the possibility to adjust each lens separately.

5. IonVR

Costs: 50-90$

Availability: pre-ordering
External Input: None
www.ionvr.com

6. Archos VR Headset

Costs: 10$

Availability: Out of Stock (only US)
External Input: None
www.archos.com

7. Matel Viewmaster

Costs: 30$

Availability: Fall 2015
External Input: Mechanical lever
www.view-master.com

The original View-Master developed in the 50ies utilized a paper-reel, which users can slide it into the device to see images with a 3D stereoscopic effect. Rebooted by Matel and Google as a VR Device this fall, users can buy additional content as physical plastic-reels which are detected through augmented reality. Targeted for children.

8. Homido

Costs: 70$
Availability: online shipping
External Input: Bluetooth Gamepad (opt)
www.homido.com