The landscape of virtual reality and augmented reality has never looked so grand for the growing number of users who are immersing themselves further into new “realities” through VR or AR powered headsets.
With these revolutionary platforms competing to dominate mainstream adoption, there are many AR/VR headset options available. From the best video gameplay to the best headset for businesses, we’ve listed all the emerging hardware leading the mixed reality market. Here are the details you will want to know about the top contenders, so you can make sure you select the right headset to alter your reality.
Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality
As you make the decision of which headset you want to purchase, it will be helpful to understand the difference between the two landscapes and how each technology is generally used.
Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop the actual environment before you, in order to make experiences more meaningful through interaction.Together, the two create a space called mixed reality and it’s likely the future for these already innovative headsets. Below are both emerging VR and AR headsets and how they suit your lifestyle.
Virtual Reality Headsets
The HTC Vive VR headset is a product created in conjunction with the video game company, Valve. This headset is an untethered device creating a life-like, immersive, and entertaining gaming experience. With HTC Vive, you have the freedom to move around the room using the headset and the paired motion controllers. The hand motion control greatly enhances the interactivity with the VR environment. While this does mean you’ll have to install sensors around the room where you’ll be using the headset, it helps to further your experience as well.
The HTC Vive was just released last month, and offers great gaming enhancements such as:
- 70 sensors
- 360 degree head tracking
- Refresh rate of 90Hz to prevent motion sickness
Samsung Gear VR
The Samsung Gear VR headset is unique as it can be used with your smartphone to transform gaming and streaming movies into immersive, 3D events. The resolution is not as high as some of the other VR headsets, but it is a great option for people who want to explore virtual reality through their smartphones. The Gear VR is a nice hybrid between the lesser Google Cardboard and the higher priced headsets built for intense use. The headset works with various Samsung smartphones, and boasts features such as:
- Ultra-light design (clocking in at just 318 grams without the smartphone)
- Wide interface
- Touchpad controls
The Google Cardboard headset is indeed made out of cardboard and pairs with Cardboard or VR smartphone applications to introduce you to virtual reality. Google Cardboard makes it possible for those on a limited budget to enjoy 3D experiences.
Oculus Rift was born out of a Kickstarter campaign before being purchased by Facebook. Although the Oculus has pushed back their shipping dates, their platform on the horizon is expected to be big. With exclusive games and gameplay controllers expected to arrive soon, Oculus is in tough competition with the HTC Vive. This VR headset connects to your computer through the USB port, and delivers cutting edge features such as:
- Excellent resolution
- 90 Hz refresh rate
- Accurate head tracking for display on screen
The FOVE VR headset functions a bit differently than its competitors. This headset uses infrared light to track eye movements rather than head motions. The FOVE VR headset can add another layer of realism and control to your gaming experience through this method of eye tracking.
Sony PlayStation VR
The Sony PlayStation VR headset is anticipated to hit the market in October 2016. This headset works in conjunction with the PlayStation gaming console and they’re likely to leverage the entire ecosystem to increase the inherent value of their new gaming device. It will be interesting to see how Playstation merges their VR platform with in-house games that only exist on their current console. The Sony Playstation VR will deliver features such as:
- 120 Hz refresh rate
- Enlarged 5.7 inch OLED display screen
- 1080p display running at up to 120 frames per second
Augmented Reality Headsets
The Microsoft Hololens headset uses a blend of VR and AR technologies to elevate real-life scenarios and bring HD holograms to life in your own home. This headset does not plug into computers or gaming consoles, but instead operates from a built-in, battery-powered Microsoft 10 program. The Hololens has one of the higher pricetags, but endeavors to change how people communicate, interact, and play through enriching augmented reality experiences. The hardware is a bit more robust than other competitors but Hololens has proven real use cases for businesses across several verticals. They’ve also pushed the idea of how it will drive personal productivity.
- Sensor fusion caputres movement and environment information
- Spatial sound
- No wires, external cameras, or phone or PC connection required. Completely untethered.
The Meta 2 is an AR headset with a unique, transparent screen that displays holograms, and allows you to make eye contact with others at the same time. The Meta 2 creates another level of sensory interaction through sensors that respond to hand motions as well as head position. This means that you can touch and interact with the holographic images and enhancements displayed through the headset. The Meta 2 connects to your computer, and works with Microsoft 8 and above. With plans to become Mac compatible this year, the Meta 2 has a promising roadmap as well as other great features already available:
- High resolution
- 90 degree field-of view
- Works while wearing eyeglasses
Virtual reality and augmented reality powered headsets are becoming much more accessible for anyone to enjoy at a variety of price points. Augment offers a mobile solution to help enable augmented reality without the headsets. Try a new reality through your smartphone or tablet below.