Technology Today: Virtual reality to emerge in tech market

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Derek Krantz

by Derek Krantz
Have you ever been playing a video game or watching a movie and thought to yourself that you wish you could be experiencing it around you? That dream may very soon become real thanks to new virtual reality, or VR, technology.
Oculus, an American virtual reality company that stemmed from a viral Kickstarter campaign, has been developing a product called Oculus Rift. Rift allows a user to be immersed in a video game environment and is set to be released March 28. The Rift is a headset that is worn around the eyes, covering the user’s whole line of sight. The device tracks the movement of the eyes and head and adjusts the simulated environment’s picture that is seen by the wearer accordingly. Features that come with Oculus include 3D audio, approximately 110 degree vision, a microphone, and an Xbox One controller. Unfortunately, it currently has a $600 price tag and requires a high-end powerful computer in order for it to function, making Oculus Rift about a $1,500 investment.  
Lucky for PS4 owners, the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift is not the only VR option. Sony is currently working on PlayStation VR, or Project Morpheus. Its VR headset is very similar to the Rift functionally but has some key differences. Morpheus runs on a PlayStation 4 system but is rumored to cost $800, twice the cost of the PS4 console itself. The headset also has 3D audio, but it only has 100 degree vision, no microphone is believed to be included, and it will have slightly worse resolution. The resolution is not an issue to be too worried about, however, because it is only a minute step down from Oculus’ headset. One advantage for Sony is that it will have a higher refresh rate than its opponent. However, it has not yet been revealed whether a PS4 controller will be included with the headset. No release date has been set for the product, but it is confirmed that it will come out in the first half of 2016.
HTC also has a new VR headset, which is scheduled to be released in April, and companies like Google have developed smaller projects in which a smartphone that has a specific app is placed on a cardboard box in front of the eyes. However, I will focus mainly on Sony and Oculus in this blog. Since Oculus partnered with Microsoft and their technology comes with an Xbox controller, it seems to be the Xbox One versus PS4 showdown all over again.
As a PS4 owner, my preference would most likely be the one compatible with my system. It seems like Morpheus is a headset that could have a much more practical use because of its accessibility. Unfortunately, since Rift needs a more powerful computer than a gaming console, Xbox users most likely cannot run it on their current computers.
This could very well be the year that virtual reality technology finally becomes a mainstream accessory. It seems similar to this year’s Hoverboard. Not everyone will have it, but it will surely make an impression on us all. I’m sure we’ll be aware of their new presence in the world. Overall, would I buy one? I’d certainly be interested and so will many other eager consumers who are willing to pull out their wallets to experience cutting edge technology.