VR and MR Technologies

Some of the more well-known VR headsets available in the market would likely be: Oculus Quest 2, Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive (Pro) and Valve Index.

Oculus Quest 2

The Oculus Quest 2 appears to be the overall best VR headset available currently, based on its more affordable pricing, 6DOF functionality, having one of the best resolutions (1832×1920, up to 90Hz refresh rate), ease of use etc. The Oculus Quest 2 can be used as a standalone device without needing the hassle of wiring it up to a computer or messing with cables like what’s needed for the HTC Vive. If more processing power is required, the Oculus Quest 2 can be hooked up to a PC with a slightly pricy cable, which pretty much gets rid of the purpose of the Oculus Rift S with its higher processing power and mandatory connection to a computer/laptop.

 The Oculus Rift S will be discontinued in Spring 2021, as development will be focused on the Oculus Quest series and improving it as a standalone VR device. Apart from requiring a lot of setup for the HTC Vive, using only the standard 2 base stations can have rather inaccurate and glitchy tracking, depending on the size of the room and obstacles in the room. One downside of the Oculus Quest 2 is that the controllers require the use of (rechargeable) AA batteries. Otherwise, the Oculus Quest 2 is pretty good for meeting most of your VR needs, if it’s available on the platform.

For Mixed Reality, there are few smart glasses and the most recognized ones are the Microsoft HoloLens 2 and the Magic Leap One. Depending on the purpose and content of the Mixed Reality application, either one could possibly come up top. However, in terms of features and functionality, HoloLens 2 comes out top.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

It has the best resolution out of all smart glasses at 2048×1080 per eye vs the 2nd best 1280×960 per eye for the Magic Leap One. HoloLens 2 outstrips all its competitors in terms of performance with the availability of the Remote Rendering feature which essentially utilizes cloud computing to overcome hardware restrictions while keeping the smart glass light and portable. HoloLens 2 can fully track all 10 fingers, allowing for detailed controls on the level of being able to play a virtual piano, unlike the Magic Leap One which can only recognize a limited number of fixed gestures and utilizes a controller. HoloLens 2 has a more advanced eye-tracking technology and voice recognition, which greatly increases the range of control a user can have in a Mixed Reality environment.

Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality Technologies

The latest commercial Virtual Reality Hardware release was Facebook-owned Oculus’s Oculus Quest 2 back in October 2020. Unlike other leading VR hardware out there, Quest 2 is a standalone VR headset powered by Android, meaning that it does not require a PC or a smartphone for one to operate it. The fact that such a standalone hardware can run VR is a feat of excellence, given that VR requires high fidelity graphics together with target framerates higher than that of PC and Console gaming’s (90 vs 60 FPS).

Taking away the inconvenience of setting up a VR environment with the classic tethered PC/Console VR such as the HTC VIVE, PSVR, and Valve Index, the Quest 2 still manages to provide smooth VR experiences with its powerful hardware. Hence, it is hard to not pick the Quest 2 as one of my favorites in the VR hardware sphere as it removes one of the major pain points of VR hardware. Another huge plus is that it is at a lower price point (SG$450) than PCs and Consoles, paired together with the fact that it is a standalone device makes it a highly accessible technology for one to pick up.
As for Mixed Reality, a relatively younger phenomena, the leading technology by far is the Microsoft HoloLens 2, released in 2019 at a hefty price point of SG$5,388, and is an improvement over its predecessor, the Microsoft HoloLens, which was released back in 2016. The HoloLens 2 features a much higher field of view of 52 degrees compared to the 30 degrees that the first version has. It also has an increased display resolution of 2048×1080 pixels, eye-tracking, and a much better processor. Development potential also increased dramatically with the addition of the tracking of both hands as well as additional gestures that the HoloLens 2 can pick up.

Its competitor, Magic Leap One, while costing two-thirds the price, underperforms the HoloLens 2 in almost every aspect. Unique to the HoloLens 2 for example, is Microsoft’s “Remote Rendering”, which is essentially using cloud computing to provide the hardware with extra computing power and hence performance, easily achieving better performance than Magic Leap One. The amount of content available to the user is also overwhelmingly in favor of the HoloLens 2, having backward compatibility with applications that were made for its predecessor. Tracking and Control is also way better on the HoloLens 2 with its new hand tracking system that picks up both hands. Therefore, Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 easily wins out its competitors in the Mixed Reality market.