In an unusual partnership (that actually makes perfect sense
when you examine it in more detail!) Facebook has teamed up with Oculus, the
social media giant partnering up with the leading producer of virtual reality
equipment with the avowed aim of getting as many people as possible using
virtual reality tech. As Facebook has, as of the last quarter of 2017, as many
as 2.2 BILLION users, this mission is one that is almost guaranteed to succeed
way beyond the dreams of any ‘normal’ hardware manufacturer!
At present, virtual reality headsets are either: bad(ish) quality, very expensive, or need a cable tethering them to a powerful gaming PC. Oculus stands on the brink (mere days away at time of writing) of releasing Oculus Go, an innovative virtual reality headset that does not need a phone to be inserted into it, and that does not need any wiring. Instead, the headset is the whole device (hand controls excepted) with integral sim card for data connection. Using this headset is said to be better in many ways.
Many current virtual reality headsets, especially the cheaper ones, give users the sense of looking through a screen door – more part of the action than simply watching it play out on a screen, but not the fully immersive experience that they were promised would be a feature of their virtual reality gaming or viewing. Other headsets offer a better, more immersive experience, but come with the issues mentioned above – poor quality graphics, too much light leakage (when ambient light from the room in which the user is sitting spills in around the sides of the headset, ruining the display and sometimes detracting from the users pleasure in their virtual reality pastime), being tethered to a PC which can restrict unfettered movement while gaming.
In Oculus Go, the screen/ lens resolution is high and the processor is high-speed, which means that lag is minimised. Lag is what happens when a game or piece of footage does not move at a realistic speed, so a bullet seems to hesitate or a car freezes momentarily in place on the road. While this is merely annoying with regular video footage, it can be disconcerting – even disorienting – should it happen in the middle of a piece of virtual reality gameplay or VR video playback it can cause nausea and mental upset as the brain tries to reconcile what it thinks is happening with what it sees going on… Oculus Go aims to smooth out playback by working at the speed of sight, so to speak, so that the experience is seamless and realistic.
Sound is improved, too. Spatial audio is available from the headset, offering an authentic all-round surround sound experience to emulate real life sounds, but users can also play quietly (or privately) with their regular headphones via the 35mm jack – ideal if your viewing pleasure is not suitable for out-loud viewing!