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2016 – The Year of Virtual Reality0
By - Posted 18th April, 2016 at 8:50 pm Technology & The Web

As many of you know I’m a big lover of technology. I find myself needing the latest gadgets – this isn’t just a want! It’s a must have! This week I sampled the delights of Virtual Reality.

Technology sites are dubbing 2016 as the Year of Virtual Reality. But are they right? Read more to find out how I got on!

In the last decade, we’ve seen many innovative moves in technology – 3D TV’s, 4K TV’s and even curved TV’s! But developers across the globe are upping the ante and stepping into a new realm of immersion – Virtual Reality.

Everyone loves to escape the hustle and bustle of every day life and visit a world with no stress or worries. Some jet off to the Caribbean while most of us lose ourselves in good book, TV show or internet world! We’ve all found Habbo – it’s what’s brought us together. A virtual hotel where you can meet with people and chat.

Wobble Squabble 3D – Oh the possibilities!

Imagine the same possibility, but this time you’re not looking at the screen. The hotel is all around you. You can look up, down, left and right – and everywhere you see the hotel. That’s exactly what VR has brought to the table.

My experience with VR was with the Samsung Gear VR – a nice £79 addition to my Samsung S7 Edge. For starters – it looks very futuristic! Talk about the new age of technology. Putting it on blocks out every ray of light and suddenly, everything is dark.

From the main menu you can browse the apps and store, much like you would on your phone. But this time you’re selecting items with your eyes (coupled with a touch sensitive pad on the side of the device for selecting/scrolling).

Interact with menus in a whole new way!

The technology is very new, but there is still quite an array of items to chose from. I started my journey in Dubai. There I was in this 3D, 360 photograph looking up at some of the tallest buildings there. The whole concept gives a sense of scale – you can imagine how tall the building would be if you were there in real life – something a photograph will never be able to show us! From there, I moved into an App called StreetVR, and viewed the outside of my house in  VR. Nothing I hadn’t seen before, but the immersion this device delivers really allows you to lose yourself in the moment and feel like you’re in another place.

On the social side of things, Samsung offer a few apps whereby you can explore virtual worlds with friends. Think Habbo or SecondLife, but in VR. You can navigate around using a gamepad (sold separately) and meet friends on the beach. Using your headphone you can chat with them privately, or invite people to join your group. It’s work in progress and I haven’t met any friends there, but it definitely looks promising.

On the games side of things, there isn’t a big offering just yet unless you’re looking to fork out on the gamepad. There was one “game” however – which was more of a simulation, that put me in a haunted house. The graphics were circa 90’s – but this didn’t distract from the immersion this game gave me. Coupled with headphones, you are in an environment that is real. You can hear breathing behind you – but don’t want to turn around. You can see something out of the corner of your eye, but you are afraid to look. I honestly was scared beyond belief – despite the poor graphics the sound and atmosphere created sometihng that really gave me nightmares!

This is a somewhat kinder version of my reaction to Sisters!

Looking into “the future”, movie studios have already begun to develop 360 trailers for the latest movies, like The Jungle Book and Insideous 3. But is VR for you?

If you’re a fan of gaming, I’d hold out for the Playstation VR headset, making it’s way to the UK around October, and costing a hefty £349 – it’s practically the cost of a new console, but will maximise the potential of VR for gaming at a fraction of the cost of the Oculus Rift headset (not to mention the cost of a new gaming machine to support it!!). If you’re just wanting to dip your toes in and explore some 3D worlds, the Samsung Gear VR is a great investment – but only if you have a Samsung flagship phone. Failing that, Google introduced their own budget product to the mix – the Google Cardboard. I haven’t had a chance to test this yet, so any thoughts on that experience are always welcome!

Whether you’re going for gold, or just “trying it out” – which headset will you choose?

Until Next Time….

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