SxSW Interactive: The Future VR Technology Coming Soon

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South By South West Interactive had a lot to offer this year and VR tech was one of the most widely presented technology at the convention. Just weeks ahead of the consumer launch of Oculus Rift, there were dozens of brands of VR out at the convention center and at activation events throughout Austin during the 5 day interactive phase of SxSW.

We had a chance to demo several of these and you really should be excited by whats out there right now. So how about the most burning question, is VR technology affordable and with so many brands which do I choose? The simple answer is yes VR tech is affordable. The reason for so many types and brands is their ultimate purpose, and that also drives the price point around. There are 2 main purposes for VR: Gaming and well everything else. There are three major brands of VR technology on the market for gaming : Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and HTC Vive.

Oculus Rift ($599) – Coming in as the middle entry system for VR-gaming the Oculus Rift, which starts shipping at the end of this month comes in with better overall resolution than the Playstation VR and built-in headset designed for VR gaming. Future releases include motion controllers, but the initial release will have an Xbox one controller. The Rift will launch with several exclusive titles including Eve: Valkyrie. You will need a pretty intense gaming PC to handle the Rift, so if you don’t have one plan on spending $949 more (at least) to get one that is VR ready. All In the Rift will set you back $599 – $1,548

Playstation VR ($500-$550 with camera, move controllers) – This bundle is for anyone with a Playstation 4 and who loves that platform. This VR system will be limited to Playstation titles. If you already own a camera for the PS4 and the move controllers, the VR headset will only set you back $399. This is considered the low-end entry system for VR-gaming. If you don’t own a Playstation, plan on dropping another $600-$800 for a console. All In: $399 – $1,250

HTC Vive ($799) – The most expensive entry into the VR-gaming arena, it’s also considered the elite VR system. For the price it will come with its own motion controllers (which none of the others offer), integrated headphones, and its the only VR set that actually lets you walk around. It will use room sensors that brings your gaming room to life in the VR environment. However, like the Rift you will still need that gaming PC. All in The HTC Vive will run you $799 – $1,748

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If gaming is not why you want VR and you just want to experience it, there are 2 other options for simple movie watching and experiencing VR environments. Samsung GearVR comes in at a cool $99 but requires you have select Samsung Smart Phones that are required for it to operate so if you already have a Samsung Galaxy Note5, Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ or Galaxy S7, S7 edge this is your option.

The last is the Google Cardboard which allows you to use any smart phone and VR ready apps to give VR test drive for a mere $15.

But that’s not all that VR has to offer. As companies try to create a full dive (immersive) experience, new and innovative technology is being developed to achieve that. We recently reported that IBM started a project in Japan to create full dive VR using Sword Art Online as a platform but Samsung also unveiled an experimental headset that will change the way you experience VR and we got the demo it.

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With a virtual reality headset, the possibilities of what you can see are practically infinite. What you can physically feel, on the other hand, is far more limited, meaning experiences can be fairly restricted in terms of immersion. But what if VR could trick the part of the ear that regulates your balance and motion into making you feel like you are a part of the excitement? This is the idea behind Entrim 4D. Using a combination of algorithms and Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS), a safe and simple technique that sends specific electric messages to a nerve in the ear, the VR accessory synchronizes your body with changing movements in video content.

Electrical signals—like the ones used to help restore balance in stroke patients—are delivered via headphones equipped with electrodes that correspond with movement data input by engineers. Users thus feel as if they are a part of the on-screen action, and can also sense direction and speed of movement. And, when paired with the team’s Drone FPV, which utilizes data from the drone’s motion sensors, they can even feel like they are flying. In this regard, Entrim 4D aims to create an unrivaled entertainment experience, removing the need for expensive 4D motion chairs.

“Virtual reality shouldn’t be experienced only with the eyes,” says Steve Jung, Creative Leader of the project. “With Entrim 4D, we hope that people can experience VR the way it was meant to be—with their whole bodies.”

 

Unsurprisingly, the mental discrepancy of seeing yourself riding a roller coaster or zooming around a race track but not actually experiencing the movement can leave you nauseous, dizzy and can even cause headaches. Entrim 4D, though still in a developmental phase, may well be able to present a new and practical solution.

So bottom line, is everything they say true? Well we tested out these headsets and it certainly had me leaning from one side to the other. At first you don’t understand whats going on but quickly realize what they do to make it work and its genius. Now while watching the car fly around the bends, you felt the turns through their GVS technology. Adding this to a high-end VR headset could be game changing. We tried it with the Samsung GearVR and it was pretty awesome, so we can only imagine what it will be like with the Rift or Vive.

So tell us which VR headset are you going with? Are you skipping this generation all together? Have an awesome gaming PC, send us some pictures!

Be sure to follow us over on Twitter @ThreeIfBySpace and like us on Facebook.com/ThreeBySpace. If you want to be up to date on all things VR, be sure to follow me on Twitter @RobertWPrentice

Robert Prentice