Complete VR Guide - Everything you need to know about virtual reality

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Steven L. Kent
@stevenl.kent

Summary

  • COMPLETE VR GUIDE - FROM FANTASY TO ABUNDANCE
  • COMPLETE VR GUIDE - THE BASICS OF MODERN VIRTUAL REALITY
  • TOP OF THE RANGE HELMETS
  • Oculus Rift
    • 10 Oculus Rift Apps You Should Try
  • HTC Vive
    • 10 HTC Vive app you should try
  • THE HEADPHONE FOR LIVING ROOM CONSOLE
  • PlayStation VR
    • 10 PlayStation VR games you need to try
  • MOBILE HELMETS / CARDBOARDS
  • Samung Gear VR
    • 10 Samsung Gear VR apps you should try
  • Google Cardboard and Google Daydream View
  • What about Microsoft?
  • COMPLETE VR GUIDE - VR ACCESSORIES
  • COMPLETE VR GUIDE - FILMING IN VIRTUAL REALITY
    • 360 cameras
    • 360 video or virtual reality?
  • COMPLETE VR GUIDE - VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY
  • OTHER VR APPLICATIONS
    • Journalism
    • Social Networks
    • Sport and Music
    • Tourism and Real Estate
    • Medicine
    • Pornography



Virtual reality has long been an object of fantasy for intellectuals. We find throughout history different traces and evocations of this technology. The possibility of escaping for a moment from the world as we know it to immerse yourself in an alternative universe has always been attractive. Today, VR is very present and the means to access it are numerous. We help you do that with this comprehensive VR guide.

Modern virtual reality is owed to Palmer Luckey, an American student. In 2010, he created the first prototype of a VR headset: Oculus Rift. Two years later he launched a Kickstarter campaign with a view to raising $ 250, but the enthusiasm for his project was such that it brought together more than 000 million, at the same time reviving the debates around this technology. Two years later, the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is so convinced by Luckey's plan that he buys his company from him for the sum of $ 2 billion. With the participation of the businessman, a pledge of credibility, virtual reality could only experience success which is confirmed today.



Since then, many competitors have entered the market, from the HTC Vive to Sony's PlayStation VR., through mobile devices like the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Cardboard. Meanwhile, hundreds of developers are working to create content to fuel these new products: games, films, experiences, training, professional tools, etc.

Large companies, cautious, despite Facebook's initiative, seem to have waited until 2016 to embark on the VR adventure. Giants like Imax, YouTube or Google have realized that virtual reality is no longer a fantasy, but that it is a technology of the future. In this complex landscape where all the main actors are inserted simultaneously, it is difficult to see clearly. Which virtual reality headset to choose? What are the best apps? So many questions we'll answer in this comprehensive guide to virtual reality.

If unfortunately you do not find what you are looking for, you can always consult our reviews of VR headsets and VR Ready PCs.

COMPARISON OF PC VR READY

COMPARISON OF LAPTOP VR READY

COMPARISON OF VIRTUAL REALITY HELMETS

VR works using virtual reality headsets. The top performers need powerful computers to run. More expensive and more restrictive, they have difficulty attracting the general public. Other headsets are more accessible and only use the user's smartphone, but experiences are limited and are, at best, only a brief introduction to VR.


For the experience to be convincing, headphones with spatial sound are recommended, as well as other accessories. such as controllers allowing interactivity within VR or sensors capable of detecting the user's movements in space. Even if traditional game controllers are compatible, seeing their hands and their movements transcribed in the virtual environment greatly contributes to the user's immersion. Thus, a complete virtual reality experience requires a lot of extras which limit its individual use for all comers.


Most virtual reality devices have their own stores, where the user can view and download games, applications and 360 videos. The best known are the Oculus Store for the Oculus Rift and Viveport, which was recently released to provide content on HTC Vive.

Oculus Rift

Four years after its first crowdfunding campaign, the Oculus Rift headset has been available in its commercial version since the start of 2016. Sold mainly on the Oculus VR site, the device has gradually settled on the shelves of third-party distributors. Until now, you also had to have a powerful PC to use it, but Oculus has partnered with different manufacturers like Dell, HP, Alienware or even Asus to sell Oculus Ready computers, able to run the machine at lower costs.

That said, the Facebook subsidiary company has just announced that its VR headset will work with computers under € 500. In addition, Oculus is catching up on HTC, preparing to put on sale controllers which will still cost a trifle of € 200.


Price: € 699 (price includes virtual reality headset, headset with microphone, motion sensor, remote control and Xbox One controller)
Required: a powerful PC
How to use : Easy to use and install, the Oculus Rift is suitable for a passive experience of virtual reality. The absence of controllers and the limitation of the user's movements recommend that it be used in a seated position. It will be ideal for viewing 360 ° content and for simple and not very immersive gaming experiences.Since the release of Oculus Touch, the controllers dedicated to the Oculus Rift, the experiences offered by this virtual reality headset have become much more immersive and can provide gaming sensations equal or even superior to those of the HTC Vive.


Neither restrictive nor bulky, this headset constitutes in its current state an excellent virtual reality headset. 

COMPLETE OCULUS RIFT TEST

10 Oculus Rift Apps You Should Try

  • Chronos : A third-person role-playing game with stunning graphics
  • Minecraft : The famous construction game, this time in virtual reality
  • Elite : Dangerous : A space shooter with an epic dimension
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes : A multiplayer game where you have to defuse bombs with the help of your friends
  • EVE : Valkyrie : A space shooter so addicting and immersive that it's available on multiple platforms, even PS VR
  • The Climb : Climb mountains across the world. Beware of vertigo
  • Jaunt VR : An assortment of 360 videos, ranging from documentaries to concerts
  • Henry : The first VR film to win a festival award
  • Apollo 11 VR Experience : An application with historical content that will propel you to the moon
  • Within : A set of fictions in virtual reality.

HTC Vive

Resulting from the partnership between the HTC and Valve, the HTC Vive is in direct competition with the Oculus Rift. Like the Rift, this virtual reality headset requires a powerful PC to function properly. The Taiwanese company has also established partnerships with computer manufacturers such as Alienware, HP and MSI.

It remains ahead of its rival, however, because it offers more features. First, it has a front camera that allows real elements to be brought into the virtual universe. Then it comes with controllers, which appear as hands or revolvers inside the virtual reality headset. Last but not least, it is accompanied by two sensors that will allow you to move around in a space of approximately 5m².

However, with all these features, the HTC Vive is more complicated to install and requires a higher configuration than that of the Oculus Rift. In addition, the HTC helmet is bulkier and more difficult to transport than its competitor, but HTC will soon be offering a wireless extension to facilitate the use, installation and transport of its VR headset.

Price: 949 € (the price includes the HTC Vive headset, two wireless controllers, two sensors and a PC connection box. Its price higher than the Oculus Rift is completely justified for all these elements).
Required: A powerful PC, a lot of use space
How to use : Unlike the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive is recommended for standing use. The presence of controllers appearing in the virtual universe and the sensors offering a large space of movement offer the user an immersion without common measure. Ideal for playing video games, the HTC Vive can count on a large community of developers to offer varied content.

COMPLETE TEST OF THE HTC VIVE

10 HTC Vive app you should try

  • Job Simulator : In 2050, humans no longer need to work thanks to the presence of a robot. You are in a museum and relive the trades of yesteryear
  • Elite : Dangerous : A space shooter with an epic dimension
  • Cosmic Trip : A first-person strategy game where you have to colonize an alien planet
  • The Brookhaven Experiment : An ideal survival horror for virtual reality, with its share of monsters and bursts
  • Fantastic Contraption : A construction game initially developed in 2D, but which works very well in VR
  • Tilt Brush : Google's app that lets you paint in three dimensions: Photoshop of virtual reality
  • Jaunt VR : An assortment of 360 videos, ranging from documentaries to concerts
  • Apollo 11 VR Experience : An application with historical content that will propel you to the moon
  • then Blu : Dive into the heart of the seabed in virtual reality
  • AltspaceVR : A social network in virtual reality. As an avatar you can chat, but also play with your friends

PlayStation VR

The first virtual reality headset to work for a home console is the Sony PlayStation VR. Released on October 13, 2016 as an accessory for the PlayStation 4, the Japanese manufacturer promises that around fifty titles will be playable by the end of the year. What make up for the delay that Sony has taken in this race for virtual reality. In addition, it costs only 399 € if you already own a PS4.

Dedicated for the moment to video games, Sony has also said that other types of content would be available. The firm seems to have high hopes for its virtual reality headset. The PlayStation VR delivers a compelling experience, even though it has lower picture resolution than high-end headsets. The graphics are improved if the headset is used with the new PlayStation 4 Pro.

Most games work with the PS Move, which acts as controllers for VR experiences, bringing it closer to the HTC Vive in terms of interactivity.. Finally, the image can also appear on the screen in order to guarantee a local multiplayer experience, which makes obsolete the criticism which would like the isolated virtual reality.

Price: 399 € (the price includes only the virtual reality headset)
Required: A PlayStation 4, a PlayStation Camera and possibly some PS Move.
How to use : For now, the PlayStation VR is only used for playing games, but Sony plans to offer other formats in the long term. The Sony headset is a quality VR solution at a reasonable price, although you have to get the console and other accessories. With a base of 40 million PlayStation 4 players, this headset will most likely play a key role in the democratization of technology.

COMPLETE TEST YOU PLAYSTATION VR

10 PlayStation VR games you need to try

  • DriveClub VR: Adaptation of the latest DriveClub in virtual reality
  • RIGS Mechanized Combat League : Fight at the controls of giant robots
  • Robinson : The Journey : Developed by Crytek, you play as a child so the space shuttle crashed on a planet populated by dinosaurs
  • Batman Arkham VR: Play as the dark knight in virtual reality
  • The Playroom : The PlayStation VR Mario Party. You can play with your friends without the headset
  • EVE Valkyrie : Adaptation of the famous space shooter in virtual reality on the PS VR
  • SportsBar VR: A social space where you can play games with other PlayStation VR users
  • Resident Evil 7 : Episode 7 of the famous franchise will be in virtual reality
  • Job Simulator: In 2050, humans no longer need to work thanks to the presence of a robot. You are in a museum and relive the trades of yesteryear
  • Farpoint : A highly anticipated FPS on the PlayStation VR, with a gun-shaped accessory.

Samung Gear VR

The Samsung Gear VR uses your smartphone screen to provide you with a virtual reality experience. Samsung's headset relies on Oculus technology and interface, but is nowhere near as powerful as the Oculus Rift. It should be noted that it is very discriminating: it only works with the latest generation Samsung phones (S6, S7). Other mobile solutions, less efficient, but more compatible exist such as the Zeiss VR One headset ou the French Homido helmet.

The Samsung Gear VR is ideal for learning about virtual reality. Easy to install and use, the latter costs only a hundred euros. You can carry it everywhere, to share it with your friends or to liven up your parties. Despite everything, it remains a basic solution, because the power of smartphones is far from equaling that of VR-compatible computers. Also be aware that the Oculus Store is starting to get quite rich in content and that you will be able to browse the internet or view your own files, whether they are 360 ​​degrees or not.

Samsung's virtual reality headset sets itself apart from other mobile devices not only for its Oculus interface, but also for its interactivity and controls. In fact, on the side of the helmet is a touchpad that makes navigation between the various VR content precise and intuitive.

Price: 99,99€
Requires : Un Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S7, S7 Edge
How to use : Practical and easy to access, it is suitable for everyone, young and old alike. Some applications are really convincing, and it does not require any bulky connection. You can carry it or wear it around your neck to take your virtual reality wherever you want.

COMPLETE TEST OF SAMSUNG GEAR VR

10 Samsung Gear VR apps you should try

  • Land's End: An exploration game with a spellbinding artistic direction
  • Minecraft : The famous construction game, this time in virtual reality
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes : A multiplayer game where you have to defuse bombs with the help of your friends
  • Smash Hit : A rhythmic puzzle game with a futuristic atmosphere
  • Gunjack : A shooting game where it's about destroying spaceships
  • NextVR : An application that allows you to watch sporting and cultural events
  • AltspaceVR : A social network in virtual reality. As an avatar you can chat, but also play with your friends in this app
  • Jaunt VR : An assortment of 360 videos, ranging from documentaries to concerts
  • Within : A set of fictions in virtual reality
  • Dreadhalls : Walk through the heart of a spooky dungeon

Google Cardboard and Google Daydream View

The Carboard represents Google's first attempt to enter virtual reality. Made of cardboard, it allows you to view 360 content for a pittance. As a result, it has been a great success, especially at trade shows where companies use it to broadcast their content in virtual reality. Google even shared an assembly diagram that allows anyone who wants to make their own cardboard. Other cardboard models have since appeared, with or without Google's support. However, the quality of experiences distilled by cardboards remains very limited. Indeed, the ease of use is minimal, interactivity is non-existent, and most of the time you will have to hold it with both hands, which quickly becomes exhausting.

But Google announced in May 2016 a virtual reality headset capable of competing with the Samsung Gear VR. A real mobile virtual reality headset: the Google Daydream View. Built with quality materials, the helmet was released on November 10 in a few countries, but not yet in France. It comes with a remote control that facilitates interaction with the virtual reality headset.

The Google Daydream View, like what the Samsung Gear VR did, is discriminating. Indeed, it only works with Google's smartphone: the Google Pixel. However, compatibility with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge has been demonstrated by Internet users. The device will probably be helped by services stamped Google like YouTube or Street View and will undoubtedly benefit from a lot of original applications, because Google can rely on its reputation to attract developers.

Price: Google Cardboard - from 0 to 25 € / Google Daydream - 79 $ (supplied with a remote control)
Required : The Google Cardboard is compatible with many devices unlike the Google Daydream View which is supposed to only work with the Google Pixel. However, Google has promised that other models of available phones will emerge during the year 2017.
How to use : As their status as mobile virtual reality devices indicates, their use can be nomadic. Google, which arrives late in the market for mobile VR headsets (and not carboards) should offer quality applications, taking mobile VR out of simple initiation. You can easily carry them to share virtual reality with your loved ones. The Google Daydream View is therefore a serious competitor for the Samsung Gear VR.

TEST COMPLET DU GOOGLE CARBOARD

COMPLETE TEST GOOGLE DAYDREAM VIEW

What about Microsoft?

Microsoft has, for a long time, favored augmented reality. Indeed, the American giant is still working on a consumer version of its AR headset, le Microsoft HoloLens, which on its release should position itself as a long-term leader in augmented reality headsets. However, Microsoft could not remain unmoved by the efforts of Google, HTC and Facebook to dominate the virtual reality market.

It is for this reason that last October, the American company announced the upcoming release of a virtual reality headset almost as powerful as high-end headsets., and this at a much less prohibitive price. Indeed, Microsoft's VR headset will only cost € 299 and will even be cheaper than the PlayStation VR, while being superior to it. Let's not forget that its home console, the Xbox One, competes with the Sony PlayStation. It won't require an overpowered computer either., because Microsoft intends to adapt the technology for capturing the environment of its HoloLens for its virtual reality headset.

Virtual reality headsets come with their set of accessories. Sometimes included, sometimes not, the success of the Oculus Rift on the Kickstarter platform has encouraged accessory makers to embark on the crowdfunding adventure. Therefore, VR-related projects are flourishing on these crowdfunding platforms.

There are virtual reality headsets (Impression Pi, ANTVR, CMoar, Opto, FOVE) as well as controllers (STEM System, Control VR, Gloveone, iMotion). Several projects are therefore available to users of virtual reality, but it must be done with caution. Indeed, some accessories are specifically designed for a particular helmet. You will therefore need to find out about its compatibility so as not to have any bad surprises at the reception.

Other accessories nevertheless exist. They include haptic feedback devices (gloves, seats, suits, etc.), bringing a third sense to the virtual reality experience: touch. Or devices that allow you to move around in virtual reality such as the Omni by Virtuix or the 3DRudder. There is even a Japanese suit capable of transcribing certain sensations in the context of VR experiences for adults..

360 cameras

The cameras and editing software required to capture and stitch 360-degree images can be complex and expensive. Nokia's OZO camera, priced at around € 40 and which will be difficult to handle for non-professionals, is a good illustration of the constraints of 000 video production.

For the general public, many alternatives exist, but the final rendering can never claim to match the quality of the images provided by the OZO. The best known of these consumer-oriented 360 cameras is certainly the Samsung Gear 360.. With its price of 349 € and intuitive handling, the consumer can get their hands on 360 video and get a satisfactory result for a reasonable cost.

D'' other alternatives exist and most have a specific brand image. La Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K is the first steps of the legend of photography in the 360 ​​video. The Giroptic 360cam is a solid French camera that is easy to access. La 360Fly is a sports camera, an action cam that will allow you to film your sports activities. LMost of these 360 ​​cameras come with a dedicated application which will completely assist the user in capturing and editing their 360 production.

360 video or virtual reality?

By an abuse of language, these two contents are often confused. However, despite the fact that these two experiences provide the user with a 360-degree view, there is a fundamental difference between these two types of production.

360 videos and photos are panoramic images assembled a posteriori by editing software. You can just turn your head and look around, with no possibility of movement or interaction.

Virtual reality immerses the user in a virtual environment, created by computer. Thus, beyond the technical possibilities inherent in the technology, the user can, most of the time, move around and interact with his environment, within the limits of the programming carried out by the developer (s). Most virtual reality headsets allow you to view these two types of content, but they should not be confused.

Virtual reality involves immersing an individual in a virtual world, through lenses placed right in front of their eyes. The outside world, even if mixed reality experiences exist, is not part of the environment in which the wearer of the VR headset evolves. In essence, it is therefore completely cut off from the real world, so it can bump into walls or trip over wiring.

Augmented reality, as the name suggests, is all about adding things to the real world. Content, most often in 3D, adds to the real world experience. A headset is not necessarily required, although the expectation around the Microsoft HoloLens grows day by day. Pokémon Go, for example, allows players to see Niantic's little monsters appear on the dining room table or on the toilet bowl. Snapchat also uses this technology very well, and has for a while been offering filters that superimpose fictitious elements on images captured by smartphone cameras.

Google Glass, launched in 2014 by Google, has been a commercial failure. The company quickly realized that it would not be able to sell its device to the general public. But that hasn't discouraged other companies, especially Microsoft, from working on an augmented reality headset: the Microsoft HoloLens.. The latter will be aimed as much at professionals with, for example, applications related to architecture, as at consumers with fun applications.

Another Florida-based American company should be cited here because it has managed to raise more than $ 1,4 billion in investments: Magic Leap. With few visuals and a lot of mystery, she's working on an augmented reality headset that should cause Microsoft a lot of concern.

Augmented reality, even if we can think that it is easier to implement than virtual reality will have to appear on a large scale well after the latter. Indeed, the few headsets available are for the moment very expensive and do not have a rich enough content to justify the acquisition. Consumers must therefore turn to their smartphones with Pokémon GO, Snapchat or other applications such as IKEA's, which allows them to check whether the sofa they want to buy is fine in our living room.

Even if it is undeniable that virtual reality is a dream shared by generations of gamers, this technology is not reserved only for the practice of video games. The Oculus Rift was initially developed for video game use. But Mark Zuckerberg, when he bought the company announced that he was planning to use the VR headset for things other than video games.

" It's just the beginning. After the games, we're going to make the Oculus a platform for a lot of other experiences. Imagine enjoying a game of tennis as if you were on the court, studying in a classroom with your classmates and teachers all around the world, or seeing a doctor from a distance as if you were standing in front of him, simply by wearing a helmet at home. " explained the CEO of Facebook, before adding this : “It's really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share limitless spaces and experiences with other people. Imagine not just sharing moments with your friends online, but experiences and adventures ”.

Journalism

Hundreds of developers are working on VR games, but there is a lot of buzz around other types of entertainment as well. Journalists, filmmakers and documentary producers use 360 ​​cameras to find new narrative axes.

Director Chris Milk started his VR business in 2014 with the goal of producing and distributing virtual reality documentaries. Since then, he has offered experiments taking place in New York, Cuba and Syria. He justifies his interest as follows: “I am not interested in fiction. I am interested in creating a medium capable of surpassing film, theater, literature and all the other media that we used to use in the past to connect with each other ”.

Virtual reality, which immerses the user, is perfect for the production of documentaries in that it makes them travel to places they would never have visited otherwise. Thus, studies have shown that in the context of an awareness documentary, the impact of the latter is more significant if it takes place in VR, in particular with regard to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Some mainstream mainstream media have followed suit. The New York Times or The Guardian have therefore produced reports in virtual reality, and they should soon be joined by other media as recording and editing devices develop.

Social Networks

When Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook's takeover of Oculus, he made it clear that virtual reality could be the next big social platform and that it could connect more than a billion people. This may seem contradictory, given that virtual reality headsets are primarily designed for an individual experience, within an isolating device.

But some companies seem to believe in the existence and viability of this dichotomy. Oculus has launched Social Beta, an app that allows users to watch Twitch and Vimeo videos together in a virtual theater. The company also launched Toybox, an app where users meet in a room and can interact with multiple toys.

But other startups are more advanced in the social field. Altspace VR, for example, wants people to "be together in a more natural way than during a phone call, message or video chat" by creating avatars able to move and interact with others. people in interactive virtual environments. Other applications allow you to watch sporting events together.

Sport and Music

Some companies believe that certain events can be just as enjoyable in VR as in reality. NextVR specializes in sports and entertainment., and has already offered its users the ability to share US Open Tennis together or a live performance by the famous group Coldplay. Soon, it will offer a series of live concerts in partnership with Live Nation.

Voke, another VR company works with celebrities like Ricky Martin and Mark Anthony. LiveLike offers its community to watch and chat together during sporting events. VR can therefore bring culture, but especially culture to many up to date, in a context where tickets for concerts and other sporting events are often sold at prohibitive prices.

Tourism and Real Estate

One of the main interests of virtual reality lies in its ability to take the user to places that they could not visit personally, because they are too expensive, too far or too dangerous. The technology intends to respond to this problem and position itself as the reference solution.

It is now possible with VR to climb Mount Everest, visit the Grand Canyon or experience the tribal cultures of the planet. It is even possible to travel to Mars or the Moon thanks to Mars 2030 and the Apollo 11 VR Experience. Suffice to say that it is difficult to find limits to this technology in this field.

Real estate companies are therefore very fond of this technology, because it saves considerable time and money. Their clientele could quickly visit dozens of apartments without having to move anywhere other than an office chair.

Medicine

Virtual reality is also arousing the interest of therapeutic industries. Medical Realities is a company that aims to use VR and AR to train medical students, with in particular its Virtual Surgeon application which allows students to perform a surgical operation instead of a surgeon, with fewer risks. In the same line, Osso VR has also developed a surgery simulation for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

But beyond the training of medical students, virtual reality is of very different interest. Indeed, it is now used as a treatment in its own right.. Whether it's phobias or mental dysfunctions like Alzheimer's or pedophilia, VR treatments have already borne fruit. The number of these treatments should increase as the mastery of this technology improves.

Pornography

We had to mention this area for the sake of completeness. Producers in the porn industry have no equal when it comes to adapting new technologies to their productions. It was logical that the latter appropriated the virtual reality prematurely.


VR provides a feeling of immersion beyond measure. It is easy to imagine that an adult film, in which you are in the shoes of the actor and where you can look around, constitutes the content of choice for this industry. Thus, many American production companies now offer VR content and streaming sites like Pornhub have opened a specialized category. To learn all about this VR industry, head over to our full VR porn tutorial.



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