Can we finally say the emperor is naked, and move on?
The fact that I am not happy with the state of affairs in VR today is probably not news. But, what you are reading are the bitter words of a disappointed lover.
Here’s what we have for VR today:
1. A heavy mask that becomes uncomfortable and sometimes hurts the bridge of your nose, and can become without adequate venting.
2. Cumbersome headphones (except for the Oculus Rift).
3. An umbilical cord that restricts and endangers you unless suspended somehow.
4. Limited resolution causing eye fatigue.
5. Limited field of view.
6. Content that often has a vergence accommodation issue that confuses you (and makes your eyes hurt).
7. Limited (if any) use and visibility of one’s hands and arms
8. The always popular photon-to-motion issue for complex scenes.
9. Mostly uncompelling content.
10. Too expensive for most, especially given for all the above limitations.
11. And other things too esoteric to go into (or that I forgot).
OK, so anyone can bitch and complain, how about some suggestions?
Well for those of you have been reading Tech Watch since the turn of the century (and the Peddie Report before that), you may recall I have been asking for and suggesting VR and AR features for decades. So, with that martyrish backdrop, and the wisdom of current developments, here are my current design demands.
No freakin’ suffocating claustrophobic damn mask. I don’t like MRI mqchines, and I like heavy masks even less. A VR HMD is a miniaturized CAVE hung on your face. Give me a CAVE. Or, how about Emagin’s steampunk VR headset. It looks (and feels) great, why can we not have that now.
Microsoft got close to the idea with RoomAlive and then for mystical and magical reasons only known by a few gods in the kingdom of Redland, dropped it. HD projectors are cheap today, you can get 1080 projectors for ~$300, and if you’re willing to compromise to a dithered 1080 image (from a native 800 x 600 panel), as low as $99. You’ll need at least three of them (four to six would be better). Three can be driven by any AIB, for six you’ll need AMD Eyefinity.
Now you’ve eliminated all the problems of 1 to 6, but created a new one— now you can actually see your hands (7). So, no stupid controllers that try to mimic what your hands are doing (or where they’re doing it). Now, instead of a controller (or mouse), you hold a real(istic) weapon. And, it’s tracked, so if you point it at the floor, the bad guy on the roof isn’t going to feel threatened.
Item 8 goes away completely. Turn your head in a CAVE and all you’ve done is found something else to look at. But that creates a new problem—how do you move through the simulation? Which strangely leads to the sphere (for those of you who remember the sphere).
Without the physical apparatus of the sphere, we’ll need some type of locomotion simulation scheme so we can run and shoot zombies without having to actually run. It won’t be hard, run in place, let accelerometers like the kind in your phone, or Fitbit make the image model move accordingly.
That said Fluid Locomotion from Survios has a novel movement method which offers great promise.
Which takes us to number 9. Can’t fix that now, but it CAN be fixed. It will just take time.
As for number 10—Moore’s law will save us again, and as it does price-elasticity will kick in and the home VR market will soar—and so will you with the right app.