Blending into an alternate reality made while you’re still in your current reality – that’s what virtual reality is mostly about. The technology isn’t entirely new but reaching the mass consumer level is something very new. Virtual Realities used to be under sci-fi movies’ possession for a long time and then, the technology giants started making easy to use and VR helmets that use the smartphone to create and blend into the virtual reality.
Oculus Rift is one of the most popular virtual reality projects and they have earned a pretty good amount of media coverage as well – people got to know about virtual reality helmets through that Oculus Rift. However, later on Facebook acquired the project and they are working on improving this project even more. While Facebook is at it, there are plenty other companies taking endeavors at virtual reality helmets, here are brief reviews on five of those.
- Sulon Cortex
Sulon Technologies have been working on gaming technologies for a pretty long time. They had taken a project that blends the virtual reality techniques into a gaming tech, and hence the Sulon Cortex was made. They could’ve come up with something exactly like the Oculus Rift, but instead the Sulon Cortex was made as a gaming VR helmet. The users of Sulon Cortex get to experience gaming like never before – any physical space could be used as a holodeck for the virtual reality helmet to work.
The camera on this VR gadget will perform spatial scanning to come up with necessary properties to plot the augment virtual reality there. Requirements for Sulon Cortex is of course some actual physical space apart from the technical requirements. Initially the Cortex will scan the surroundings and once it’s done calibrating, the user is good to go. Price – $499.
- Avegant Glyph
Most virtual reality headset/helmets use a traditional display to plot the virtual reality on its screen. But Avegant Glyph has taken a different approach towards their premium VR helmet, it uses virtual retinal display instead of regular displays. The difference between a typical display and this one is, a retinal display uses the rear side of the eyeball to project the elements and the user would feel like they are seeing the virtual elements for real, not onto a separate display. Basically, Glyph projects all virtual details on to the retina directly and it makes everything very sharp and crystal clear.
Even though Glyph was mainly built for media consumption purpose, it still eliminates the passage like approach. HDMI port makes Glyph an alternate display as well. Price – $499.
Oculus Rift is truly amazing, but given the price point such amaze can turn very sour. Not many people may will to buy a virtual reality headset for couple hundreds of bucks no matter how awesome they are. However, not all virtual reality gadgets are crazy pricey. There are few companies offering great deals on VR in a cheaper price tag, Altergaze is one of them. Altergaze is inexpensive because it essentially 3D-prints via a printer and user can insert a smartphone to turn it into a VR helmet. Altergaze offers 110 degree viewing angle, it’s printable via 3D printer and open source. Price – $83.
- Durovis Dive
Durovis Dive is a virtual reality goggle, like the Altergaze. The setup is not complete until a smartphone is inserted into the bay. This low-cost solution still offers a viable option for a virtual reality helmet. However, Durovis Drive isn’t very conveniently 3D-printable because the lenses need to be acquired separately and there’s no 3D-printable file uploaded on their website. On the Durvois Dive website, anyone willing to try a VR helmet can order the lenses, head-strap and an app named NativeSensor. Durvois Dive is offers a usable option for virtual reality experience without spending too much, like an Oculus Rift. Price – $77.
- Project Morpheus
Project Morpheus adopts virtual reality technology for mostly gaming purposes – this is a project by Sony and they named it Project Morpheus. It has an HD 1080p display with 90 degree wide field of view. To accurately track orientation and rotation of head, Project Morpheus helmet is equipped with accelerometer and gyroscope sensors. There’s a PlayStation camera as well, which provides additional supportive data with the sensor data.
However, Project Morpheus is still a prototype. Apart from the sensor based movement detection there’s support for DualShock 4 wireless controller and PlayStation Move motion controller. These systems integrate with the Morpheus helmet and provide accurate movement data, and implant a virtual reality on the surrounding around the user. The operations are pretty fast. No price tag has been announced yet.
Virtual Reality has added a different dimension of seeing unreal things in real time. Even though Oculus Rift does things in a more premium and intuitive way, doesn’t mean the alternatives are worthless. In fact, every VR gadget is totally worthy.