Preferences for VR/AR HMD

For VR HMD I prefer to choose the Oculus Quest all-in-one VR gaming headset. This one sells $399 on Amazon.

All-in-one VR: Simply set up the device with your Oculus mobile app and Oculus Quest has everything you need to explore VR, right out of the box

Insight tracking: Oculus Insight tracking system instantly reflects your movements in VR without the need for any external accessories

Touch controllers: Oculus Touch controllers precisely recreate your hands, their gestures and interactions, so every game is real enough to reach out and touch

Beyond room-scale: Oculus Quest works with your environment, so you can play standing or sitting, in spaces big or small

For AR/MR I prefer HoloLens 2.

HoloLens 2 offers the most comfortable and immersive mixed reality experience available, with industry-leading solutions that deliver value in minutes—all enhanced by the reliability, security, and scalability of cloud and AI services from Microsoft.

Immersive: See more holograms at once through the greatly increased field of view. Read text and see intricate details on 3D images more easily and comfortably with industry-leading resolution.

Ergonomic: Wear HoloLens 2 longer and more comfortably with a dial-in fit system designed for extended use. And keep your glasses on—the headset slides right over them. When it’s time to switch tasks, flip the visor up to step out of mixed reality.

Instinctual: Touch, grasp, and move holograms in ways that feel natural—they respond a lot like real objects. Log in to HoloLens 2 instantly and securely using just your eyes with Windows Hello. And voice commands work even in noisy industrial environments through smart microphones and natural language speech processing.

Untethered: Move freely, with no wires or external packs to get in your way. The HoloLens 2 headset is a self-contained computer with Wi-Fi connectivity, which means that everything you need goes with you while you work.

A woman wearing hololens glass and feels it experience

(I passed the due because I didn’t get this module before 20 Jan. This is a make up homework.)

VR/MR review

Mixed Reality

The Hololens 2 allows user to experience what it is like to live in a space where reality and virtuality amalgamate. The Hololens is designed to fit over the user’s spectacle which is something conventional VR/MR headset do not really cater to. The design of the Hololens, in my opinion, is extremely well-done. It looks sleek and expensive, it’s aesthetic is something that one would associate with futuristic technology. It is designed to feel light and comfortable such that it can be worn over long period of time. This feature is essential as it is targeted at enterprises and businesses would look for tools that provide such wearability. One that attracts me the most about the Hololens is the use of the eye tracking and hand tracking. The Hololens does not use controllers to track the movements of the user’s hand. But rather the movement of both the user’s eyes and hands is tracked by the special lens. This feature is extremely unique in the VR/MR market and can serve many functions. As well as provide more user freedom when using it. It makes the navigation more intuitive and the experience more immersive as the user explores the world created by the Hololens. The user can use his hands to interact with virtual 3D objects. This provides the perfect way of teaching someone through an immersive experience. The Hololens aspires to render more complicated 3D objects in the future. I do see this tool being employed in the near-future by businesses in their practices

Virtual reality

7 years ago, Oculus VR is a pioneer in consumer grade virtual reality. They introduced to the world the Oculus Rift which revolutionised many domains in the world. They then introduced their improved version of the Oculus Rift, the Oculus Quest. This is the first wireless VR headset that could fully manipulate the virtual world and provide three degree of freedom (or as commonly known as 3 DOF). The user could fully move in the virtual world as he would in reality. He could crotch, walk or spin in the VR world. And this provides a fully immersive experience for the user. However, instead of a powerful graphic card, the Oculus quest uses a SnapDragon 835 processor which is merely a cellphone CPU. This limits severely the graphic quality provided by this headset. However, the wireless ability of this headset more than makes up for it. 


VR/MR Review

VR – I think my most preferred device is the Oculus Quest. Similar to what the others have mentioned, I like how it is not connected to a PC. I feel this is important as the user will not be able to see anything in the physical world when wearing the headset, and tripping over wires is a likely accident that might happen if one is not careful. However, I have to add that it might be a little bit uncomfortable when it came to wearing it. I tried it once and it felt like it was drooping forwards despite adjusting the straps a number of times. Despite that, I still quite like this headset as it is easy to learn how to use it and the hand controllers are intuitive to use.

MR – I think my most preferred device is Microsoft’s Hololens 2. First of all, it has a very sleek look and seems less bulky compared to other devices in the market. Additionally, I also quite like how the design allows the user to be able to “flip up” the headset. It makes it very convenient to switch between seeing in mixed reality and the real physical world. It is also clear that users can wear spectacles when using this headset. During my internship last summer at a VR company, I helped out in a number of outreach events and I realised there is a common misconception that one has to remove their spectacles whenever they have to put on such headsets. Besides the technical specs, I feel that the design of the headset is also integral in attracting one to want to buy it, as well as ensuring the user is comfortable and enjoys using it.

Credits: Pictures obtained from Google Images

VR/MR Review

Regarding VR headsets, Oculus and VIVE are the more well-known headsets out there. While the idea of VR dates back as early as the 1860s and that the first head-mounted display being made in 1968, it was not till 2010 that VR truly starts to gain widespread public attention.

While VR has its application in fields such as medical and military, it was in the gaming sector, where it truly stands out. Based on this train of thought, it made sense to create VR devices that caters to gaming instead of other fields.

Oculus being one of the frontrunner in the VR gaming sector meant that there is a lot of support available for it be it game titles or profits from selling its device. Additional revenue meant that there is a better ability to come up with better versions of VR headsets.

Oculus Quest VR Headset

While I do not have a specific favorite VR Headset to say, Oculus Quest is likely to be the head set I will be purchasing if I decided to get start with VR now. Asides from the wide plethora of gaming titles available for Oculus products and being wide priced relative to its capabilities and utilities, there are certain specifications that made Oculus Quest stands out from the rest of the headsets.

The first and foremost would be that it is a standalone VR headset. This meant that it is wireless and users do not have to risk tripping over the wires while using the device.

The second standout function it having 6 Degrees of Freedom and that is a pretty big plus. The problem with 3 Degrees of Freedom headsets is that it can only track your head orientation and does not track the position of the headset. Having 6 Degrees of Freedom, Occulus Quest can provide a more immersive experience by giving the feeling that you are actively in the VR world rather than being stuck to a fixed spot only being able to rotate your head and limited to the movements of the controllers.

However, what the Oculus Quest lacks is built in earphones. This meant that there is a need for a additional earpiece or headphone to be plugged in the Oculus Quest itself.

In this aspect based purely on technical specs alone, HTC VIVE FOCUS would be a better device given that it has built in microphone and speakers and also have the functions mentioned above. The downer to this device is that it has a relative high price. Since earpieces are pretty common nowadays, not having built in headphones is not necessarily a negative.

Image result for hololens 2
Person wearing Microsoft HoloLens 2

Mixed Reality is a relatively new concept, where the first time I have heard of it was in the 1st lecture itself. While there are a number of MR headsets out there, HoloLens 2 stands out compared to the rest of the crowd.

One of the more standout features is the futuristic feel to the headset. In Sci-Fi shows, movies and stories, we have heard from time to time that people can just interact with holograms out of thin air and the HoloLens 2 is basically that except for the need of having the headset of course.

The headset is proclaimed to be pretty comfortable even for people wearing spectacles. It would be pretty hard to be immersed in the experience if you are constantly being annoyed with the headset itself.

Favourite VR and MR headsets

Favourite VR headset: Valve Index

Valve Index (full kit)

My favourite VR headset is the Valve Index. Priced at $1000, it costs more than twice as much as an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive, but it does come with some pretty cool specs. It has a resolution of 1440×1600 per eye with a 120Hz refresh rate (higher than the average 90Hz in many headsets). It also features an estimated 130 degree field of view.

While the display specs are good, I am most excited about its unique controllers! They are able to track even individual finger movements! With these controllers, it’s fully possible to reach out and grab an object in virtual reality instead of relying on abstractions that do the grabbing for you. You can watch the finger tracking in action in this YouTube video.

The second thing that I quite like about the Valve Index is the audio system. Instead of headphones that rest over the ears, there is a pair of speakers that sit some distance from the ears. I personally prefer listening to music and game audio on speakers because it’s more comfortable for me, so this is another feature of the Valve Index that would compel me to buy it.

The speakers on the Valve Index rest a distance from the ears. No direct contact is made.

Favourite MR headset: HoloLens 2

HoloLens 2

The HoloLens 2 is one of the most advanced Mixed Reality headsets available now. It is also a rather expensive device, with each unit costing $3,500! At that price tag, it is clear that the HoloLens 2 is targeted at companies and professionals.

Based on reviews written by people who have actually tried out the HoloLens 2, it provides an immersive experience in mixed reality for the wearer. Interaction with virtual objects is seamless, and the objects respond as if they are real objects.

The HoloLens 2 has a visor that can be flipped up when the wearer wants to exit from the mixed reality. The visor has an ergonomic design aimed to promote comfort when wearing the device. It even slides over prescription eyeglasses, making it possible for myopic people to use the HoloLens 2 without having to be blind as a bat. As someone who wears eyeglasses, I appreciate Microsoft’s effort in designing the headset to allow us to comfortably keep our eyeglasses on.

The HoloLens 2 visor can go over prescription eyeglasses comfortably.

VR/MR Headset Review

The Oculus Quest headset is my preferred VR headset in the market currently as it includes many desirable features. Firstly, It is a standalone product which allows ease of movement and no need for connecting wires. It has the ability to rival PC powered VR experience but is less expensive because of the lack of additional gadgets and wireds needed to be connect to the equipment.

Since there are two motion controllers, the Quest offers six degrees of freedom tracking. This implies that the user is able to walk around, crouch or bend comfortably in the VR environment. The user comfort has also been rated to be extremely high for this device as it is quite light on the head and has foam inner lining around the goggles. In terms of resolution, it is also superior to many other headsets (1,440 by 1,600 per eye).

My favorite MR headset would be the Magic Leap One headset. The main selling point of this device is that it uses Light Field technology. This makes it extremely usable and comfortable which also means that it may be more useful in integrating the technology into commercial and real life usage ( incorporating the real world is one of the aspects of MR that is very important to me). The device uses advanced eye tracking and even uses blinks as a control function for the user. Magic Leap One uses Interchangable components which allows greater user comfort experience. There is a lot of funding, around 2 billion, for this product which my allow it to develop faster than other products on the market.

One Magic Leap - VR/AR

resources:

https://www.techradar.com/sg/reviews/oculus-quest-review

Review of VR/AR/MR Headsets

VR/AR/MR is still in its relative infancy. While significant strides have been made in terms of technological improvements and availability of content, it is still seen as a niche.

I’ve only tried two VR/AR/MR headsets, namely Microsoft Hololens 1 and Google Cardboard (doesn’t really count, I don’t think but works well enough for a small introduction to VR, if you can’t afford a full-scale headset.)

But enough about me, here are my thoughts on the VR/AR/MR scene.

Latest Devices on the Market (not exhaustive)

HTC Vive Pro
Steam Index
Oculus Rift S
Oculus Quest
Sony Playstation VR
Microsoft Hololens 2
Samsung Odyssey+
HP Reverb Pro
Pimax 5K Plus

Preferred Devices

For VR: Oculus Rift S

Image result for oculus rift s

This is a subjective opinion, but I personally prefer the Oculus Rift S. I haven’t actually tried any VR headset, so my opinion might be invalid, and is based on research and watching others use the headsets on YouTube. I feel that to have an informed opinion, you got to try them out yourself in person. The Oculus Rift S is affordable, which is big if you want to mass market it to consumers and bring it out of the niche it’s currently in. It is a well-rounded headset, in terms of having better lenses, better controllers and better tracking for the price point. It also doesn’t rely on base stations, which dramatically increases portability.

Having cutting edge features is not going to help the scene if no one’s buying headsets, and so I believe lower cost headsets with features that are just good enough for immersion is the gateway for VR to become more popular. So while other headsets might feature higher FoV/framerates or better displays, it’s wise to be price conscious because VR is a fast moving field and the devices of today might be obsolete really quick because of rapid innovations in VR tech, and so that is why I elected to go with the Oculus Rift S.

For AR/MR: Microsoft Hololens 2

Image result for microsoft hololens 2

I consider Hololens 2 to be the world’s most pre-eminent MR headset. The problem with AR/MR today, similar to VR — is the ubiquity and accessibility of devices to the masses. Make no mistake, the Hololens 2 is not a consumer-grade device, but targeted towards developers instead, priced accordingly.

Since I’ve only personally ever used the Hololens 1, I cannot accurately say how the experience of Hololens 2 would be. One of my issues with Hololens 1 was it’s fairly limited field of view, which is addressed by Hololens 2 with its larger field of view.

The headset is accurate in tracking the real world. The virtual objects placed in the environment seems like they’re really there, and there’s no drifts or deviations in placement. I remember playing a game (a tech demo really) and they had robot drones flying all around the mapped room, and clinging onto the walls, firing at you. I thought that was pretty cool. You can also do random things like putting up YouTube videos on a wall in your office, or open a browser.

MR has a ton of potential use cases, for consumers and enterprises alike and Microsoft is well-placed to be the driving force and catalyst to propel innovation and generate interest in the field with its Hololens 2 offerings.

Conclusion

It’s an exciting time for VR/MR/AR, and maybe 2020 will be the year it all breaks out and becomes the next big thing, and maybe we’ll see VR/MR/AR be common place just like the smartphone revolution, and to a smaller extent — the smartwatch revolution.

The future is nigh.

My idealisation of VR and XR

Admittedly, my experience with VR, AR, and XR is rather limited – I have only tried VR and AR once or twice, and I have not had the opportunity to experience XR yet. Therefore, it is really difficult to dictate any device as a ‘favourite’ without having experienced them all. That said, I still have my own ideas and perceptions of what I desire with these devices. Hence what I write here will be a subjective analysis of the products based on my understanding of the devices and the ideas/technologies they represent.

Favourite VR Device

To me, the outstanding feature of a VR device is not necessarily how well the virtual world can be presented to the user – truth to be told, I think a good monitor(s) can really help with immersion. Instead, when I think of innovation in VR, I think of the controller. VR allows users the capabilities of 3-Dimensional inputs, with movements no longer restricted to just 2 dimensions. So what is the next step?

Image result for valve index controllers

Presenting the Valve Index and its unique controllers! Unlike most of the controllers on the market right now, these controllers do not just track your movements, but they track your fingers too! This allows for much more sophisticated controls – you can now pick up a ball just like in real life, instead of just pressing down on a button. With the controller straps, you could also go hands-free allowing actions users to ‘throw’ objects around naturally. While there has definitely been progress in hand-tracking technologies (such as with the Oculus Quest), I feel that the controller coupled with the hand tracking would allow for seamless transitions in gameplay/interactions between moving a character and performing hand gestures. Lest you end up with weird control schemes like in the Xbox Kinect, where users could use arm gestures naturally, but had to resort to doing weird actions with their bodies to move around (see: Star Wars Kinect).

While I have many thoughts about the other VR devices in the market, I think a short and concise summary of the product and my thoughts should suffice. Ranking from my favourite (after the Valve Index) to least favourite, they are:

Oculus Quest: A standalone VR headset with a relatively cheap price can go a long way in making VR very accessible. Even its short battery life has a silver lining – it is important to rest your eyes once in a while! Also, hand tracking!

PlayStation VR: Another accessible VR headset, that is if you already own a PlayStation 4 console. As the power of the hardware is limited by the PS4, it means that all the software that you buy can be played without any performance issues from having a weak CPU. With the support of Sony, the PlayStation VR also feature an extensive collection of high-quality games to play.

Oculus Rift S: The ‘OG’ VR headset is still quite decent, but the other options either have something unique, or are just more accessible. It also features a cable that helps to provide more power to the headset, but I can see that being a hinderance when users are trying to use the device.

Nintendo Switch VR Kit: While I am a big fan of the creative approach that Nintendo used to enter the VR market, the fact that you have to physically hold the ‘headset’ to your face the entire time looks really, really tiring. It also doesn’t help that it has a very limited library of games. Despite the ability to play older games with a new perspective (ie. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey), it is hard to really judge how influential the new perspective can be without trying it out myself.

Favourite XR Device

On to XR, however, I am much less uninformed about the technology here. I wish I have had a chance to try out one of these products at least once, but I haven’t had the luck. To me, I think XR should be a device that one can use to enhance their daily lives, and I think the demo for Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 really sold it for me. Featuring hand-tracking (which I have already mentioned how much of a gamechanger it could be above), eye-tracking and voice-commands, it seems as though there are many different ways to control and enhance whatever the user is doing. Best of all (not really, but still pretty significant), it features a flip-visor, so that users can easily switch between the mixed reality and… reality without the hassle of removing the headset. Of course, the price is pretty steep, but if we’re looking at my favourite XR headset, this is pretty much what I want XR to be and more.

Image result for hololens 2

Once again, here are the other noteworthy XR devices ranked (after the Microsoft HoloLens 2) as follows:

Oculus Quest: I like it because it can do both VR AND XR, which really gives the user a lot of flexibility on how they want to use the device. Once again, my bias of hand-tracking is still present and swaying my opinions, especially for XR devices, since the user’s own body should be part of the mixed reality.

Magic Leap 1: Despite the lack of hand-tracking, the Magic Leap 1 does feature eye-tracking and voice commands, which still goes a long way in helping users interact with the virtual elements around them. Moreover, the Magic Leap 1 is also available with prescription lenses, which can prove to be helpful to someone like myself. However, the lower field of view compared to the HoloLens 2 seems to play a big part in ruining one’s immersion.

RealWear HMT-1: The RealWear HMT-1 is clearly designed for industrial workers, and while I can definitely see its use and impact, it is simply not what I am looking for in a XR headset. That said, I have to say that aesthetics and functionality wise, I love how the headset is part of a safety helmet, further emphasising what it is for.  

My Preferred VR/MR headset

For me, when it comes to VR, the most important aspects which I looked into are resolution, frame rates, connections as well as price. I want something which looks good and is smooth as a VR unit with high latency can worsen the experience. Also, since VR is unlike conventional gaming, I would need to move my head a lot, that would mean the fewer the cables, the better. Last but not least, the price must fit into my budget.

I’ve research on a few competitive VR set on the market currently and these are the specs.

VR headset Resolution Frame rates (Hz) Connections Price (USD$)
Valve Index 1440×1600 RGB LCDs 120 to 144 (experimental) 5m tether, 1m breakaway trident connector. USB 3.0 DisplayPort 1.2, 12V power 500 for just the headset
Oculus Quest 1440 x 1600 72 Wireless 399 (64GB) 499 (128GB)
PlayStation VR 1920 x RGB x 1080 120 HDMI, USB 299.99
Oculus Rift S 2560 x 1440 80 USB 3.0, DisplayPort 399
Image result for oculus quest
Oculus Quest

After careful consideration, I believe the Oculus Quest is the VR headset I am looking for. Compared to other popular VR headset on the market, the Oculus Quest is the jack of all trade. What I like about it compared to another headset is,

  1. It does not need a cable, fully standalone. This allow for greater manoeuvrability.
  2. It does not require a high spec gaming PC, which is a huge cost saving factor.
  3. Not the most affordable VR headset but the price is reasonable.

However, what is lacking in this headset is that the refresh rate is lower compared to other unit, and since it is a fully standalone unit, it would mean that the number of games playable is limited. All in all, it is still a competitive unit and being wireless and reasonably priced is the largest selling point for me.

Once again, the most important aspects which I am looking for in a MR headset is more or less similar to that of VR. However, MR and VR differs a little, where MR have cameras which is able to capture user’s environment and display it onto the headset. Thus, for a more immersive experience, I look into Field of View (FOV) as well. Human has a vision span of approximately , therefore, I believe the experience will be better if the headset’s FOV is close to .

MR headset Resolution Refresh rate (Hz) Connections FOV (degree) Price
(USD$)
Samsung Odyssey 1440 x 1600 60 to 90 HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0 110 499
HP VR1000-127il   1440 x 1440 60 to 90 HDMI 95 Approximately 382.99
Asus HC102   1440 x 1440 Up to 90 HDMI 2.0and USB 3.0 95 429
Acer AH101-D8EY   2880 x 1440 60 to 90 HDMI 2.0and USB 3.0 100 399
Acer AH101 Windows Mixed Reality Headset
Acer AH101-D8EY

From the list, my preferred MR headset would be the Acer AH101-D8EY. As compared to other MR headset, it

  1. Has higher resolution
  2. Has wide FOV
  3. Is affordable.

However, the Acer AH101-D8EY is far from being a perfect MR headset. If we dive deeper into reliability, the Samsung Odyssey can easily took over the Acer AH101-D8EY. It seems that the Acer MR headset has buggy SteamVR compatibility, and camera-based position tracking isn’t as responsive as sensor/beacon based tracking. However, overall the specs are competitive and most importantly, it fit my budget, otherwise I would have easily chosen the Samsung Odyssey.

My Favourite VR & MR Headsets

My favourite VR headset is Oculus Quest which is revolutionising on-the-go virtual reality gaming. I like it because there is no need to hook up to a PC, or have those pesky wires tethering you like a ball on a string. As a stand-alone unit, this VR headset packs a punch, allowing you to pick-up and play from just about anywhere. With its internal tracking system. Oculus Quest has also removed the need for external base stations. Many have complained about the starting price of $399, with the optional upgrade in hard drive turning into $499, but it is important to realise that we’re purchasing the entire system for that price. The headset is like the one-stop-shop for a VR gaming experience, placing the price pretty on par with other VR gaming options.

On the other hand, my favourite MR set is Samsung HMD Odyssey+ which has a very high resolution and also good sound quality. Controllers use bluetooth that runs off the headset, not the PC, so it isn’t an issue if you lack a bluetooth adapter on your PC. Compared to the older Samsung HMD Odyssey, one additional improvement that should have been a no-brainer is a “flashlight” function with the controller.  These headsets have cameras built into them. When you use the flashlight function, you access the cameras and can look around you to make sure you don’t hit anything, which is way too common with other products. And lastly, it is easy to set up and use daily – once you have set up your perimeter, you just need to put on the headset, look to the sides and then at the ground, and it should load your setup and you’re good to go.