Homework #1 – Review of Latest VR and MR HWs

List of VR HWs

Some of the latest Virtual Reality HWs include:

  • Oculus Quest 2
  • Sony PlayStation VR
  • HTC Vive Cosmos
  • Valve Index

Most Preferred VR HW

After reading some reviews to gain a better understanding of the VR HWs, my most preferred VR HW would be the Oculus Quest 2.

In terms of pricing, the Oculus Quest 2 stands at about US$299, which is considered to be one of the lowest in the market. This is true when compared to the HTC Vive Cosmos and Valve Index, although the Sony PlayStation VR comes close to it.

In terms of resolution quality, the Oculus Quest 2 boasts one of the highest resolution out of any VR consumer headset, at 1920 x 1832 pixels per eye. This is compared to the other listed VR HWs at around 1000 x 900 pixels per eye, which barely comes close.

There are also other relatively smaller features or benefits that are either are at least matched by the Oculus Quest 2, or they are not present in the other VR HWs. For example, the Sony PlayStation VR has a latency value of 18ms, which is of an acceptable standard for most users to avoid facing any lag issues. However, the HTC Vive and Oculus Quest are able to match that value as well. In terms of movement tracking, the Valve Index has relatively worse tracking using the Base Stations compared to the Oculus series.

Even when you may potentially consider the HTC Vive Cosmos to be one of the better VR HWs, due to the fact that it is rated equally or potentially even better than the Oculus Quest 2, the price was the deciding factor in me deciding that Oculus Quest 2 is my most preferred VR HW.

List of MR HWs

Some of the latest Mixed Reality HWs include:

  • Microsoft Hololens 2
  • Magic Leap One
  • Various Windows Mixed Reality Headsets (Acer Windows Mixed Reality HMD, Dell Visor, HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition, Samsung HMD Odyssey)

Most Preferred MR HW

After reading some reviews regarding the MR HWs that are listed above, my most preferred MR HW is the Dell Visor.

It is most important to note that comparing the 3 main listed VR HWs, the Windows Mixed Reality Headsets are vastly cheaper compared to the Microsoft Hololens 2 and the Magic Leap One. The former has HWs that are in the 3 digit range, while the latter 2 products are upwards of US$2000. Just based on price alone, it is quite unrealistic to attain the latter 2 mentioned HW. Furthermore, even though they may provide excellent quality comfort wise, some of the Windows Mixed Reality Headsets levels that are almost up to par as well.

In terms of the Windows Mixed Reality Headset themselves, the Dell Visor has the same resolution (1440 x 1440 pixels per eye) as most of the other headsets, such as the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset and HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition.

With regards to the overall quality of comfort, the Samung HMD Odyssey and Dell Visor rank pretty similiarly, with the Dell Visor having extra comfort features through removable foam inserts for example, while the Odyssey has a built in headphone that provides 360 degree spatial sound. Both have its perks, but in terms of price, the Odyssey stands at US$499, which is slightly more expensive than the Dell Visor, which comes at US$450 for a set.

Hence, mostly due to price reasons, the Dell Visor is my most preferred MR HW.

Latest Devices for AR/MR

This is a post about my personal review on my most preferred devices for Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR). I have had some experience in trying on several VR headsets, in particular the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR. However, during that time the hardware devices made for VR were usually quite heavy to wear and there were other components (such as long wires, controllers) that the user has to equip on as well to complement the entire virtual experience. I remembered that I was facing some difficulty in trying to maneuver around while playing some VR games because of that and also, I was not able to withstand wearing the headset for less than 30 minutes. After conducting my research, I have listed below some of the latest hardware devices for VR and MR that are currently hot in the consumer market right now.

First off, we have the TactSuit X series (X40 and X16) from bHaptics, which is a haptic suit that is VR ready. Wearing the suit allows the user to feel different haptic patterns that are pre-embedded in VR games such as Population: One and Half-Life: Alynx. The TactSuit X40 is able to provide haptic feedback in 40 points (ERM Motors), while the X16 is able to do so in 16 points. The device uses Bluetooth 4.0 and audio ports for connectivity. It has native support for Steam VR and Audio-to-Haptics (technology that converts audio signals into haptic feedback in real-time). For Platform Availability, PS4, PSVR, Xbox are all supported but only for Audio-to-Haptics mode. The playtime is about 18 hours and the time required for a full charge is 5 hours. The weight is also below 2kg (0.95kg for the X16, 1.7kg for the X40).  In terms of Price, it is retailing for the consumer market for $499 for the X40 and $299 for the X16. Enabling Bluetooth connectivity also eliminates many of the nuances that come with using tethering. Another similar haptic suit in the market right now is the Teslasuit, however since the device is mainly targeted towards the enterprise audience so perhaps, we shall leave this one out.

The path to wireless VR gaming has given rise to many companies to develop better VR headsets for extra mobility for the user. One such popular headset is the Oculus Quest 2, which is the successor to the Oculus Quest. With Quest 2, there is a multi-generational leap in processing power with their state-of-the-art Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform which offers higher AI capability, and with 6GB of RAM. The new display features 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, which makes VR multiplayer games and productivity apps look even better than before. The game controllers that come with Oculus Quest 2 are designed with better ergonomics and longer battery life. The headset, however, seems to only be able to last between 2-3 hours which is kind of short. If the user is playing some intensive VR games, the battery might drain out fast. In terms of connectivity, the Oculus Quest 2 offers complete wireless freedom, as well as tethered options.  The device only weighs 503g and supports 6 DoF (Degree of Freedom) head and hand tracking through integrated Oculus Insight Technology. The Oculus Quest 2 is retailing at the price of $299, which is in the same price range as the TactSuit above.

Next up in the VR category, is a prototype VR glasses that are currently in development by Panasonic. The earlier prototype was unveiled in CES 2020 before it was further remodeled to an improved version in CES 2021. It is the world’s first High Dynamic Range (HDR) capable ultra-high definition (UHD) VR eyeglasses which boasts a comfortable fit that makes the user feel as if they were wearing eyeglasses. Panasonic’s audio and visual technologies are incorporated into this new device, including signal processing technologies cultivated through the development of video equipment such as TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, acoustic technologies of Technics audio products and optical technologies used in LUMIX digital cameras. It is worthy to note that this new device does not need a headband like conventional VR wearables.  As such, it can be deemed that the intended usage for this set of VR glasses is for productivity apps such as attending online meetings, VR sports viewing or virtual travel experiences, rather than playing VR games.

Preferred VR Choice: Oculus Quest 2 (2020)

My preferred choice for the latest hardware device for VR is by no doubt, the Oculus Quest 2. In terms of immersive experience, the Quest 2 offers the user much greater field of vision (360 degrees) compared to the Panasonic VR glasses (100 degrees). While the TactSuit brings forth the next generation of VR equipment to allow the user to feel haptic feedback on his body, I assume that the entire immersive experience will not be as full dive with the Quest 2 since the Quest 2 offers both audio and visual stimuli. In terms of comfort, to fully enjoy the immersive experience, the Quest 2 comes with a headband and a set of controllers. The Panasonic VR glasses, on the other hand, attempts to alleviate the heavy-weight of conventional VR headsets with a compact and light-weight design that resembles optical glasses. However, the concern of prolonged wear on the VR glasses still remains in question since it is still substantially heavier than a normal pair of glasses and without a headband to hold it in place, the glasses might slide off the user’s eyes. In future, the VR glasses will be the next big thing to look out for because of its attractive portability compared to VR headsets, which can drastically change the way we work. For the TactSuit, the comfortability level seems to be alright as I have watched some videos and people seemed to not have an issue in wearing it. Lastly, for affordability, the Oculus Quest 2 is retailing at an attractive price of $299 USD while the TactSuit X40 is retailing at $499 USD. As the Panasonic VR glasses is still in development and not released for the consumer market yet, the price is still unknown.

Preferred MR Choice: Microsoft HoloLens 2 (2019)

So far, the latest hardware devices for MR are devices that have been released in 2019 (https://www.aniwaa.com/buyers-guide/vr-ar/best-mixed-reality-headsets/). Not much updates have been provided since then for new products. The Microsoft HoloLens 2 is by no doubt, one of the best MR devices right now for the enterprise market.

The field of MR comes with a different set of challenges such as how do you get a wide field of vision even if the user is turning his head away? Some holograms disappear as the user turns around. This greatly disrupts the immersive MR experience for the user. However, the holograms produced by the HoloLens 2 do not clip as much and remains as natural looking as possible. Another challenge is mapping the real life environment into a digital space as accurately as possible. The spatial mapping extensity is improved with the HoloLens 2, as the AI is now able to understand the semantic meaning of space such as what is a couch, what is a human, what is the difference between a window and a wall. This is made possible with an Azure connect sensor in the front of the HoloLens that can scan a room at a much higher level of fidelity and in real-time. In terms of mobility, the HoloLens 2 is a self-contained computer with Wifi connectivity. The ergonomic design of the HoloLens 2 is also amazing as you can see that the engineers designed it for the user to wear it longer than the first version and it is also shaped like a tennis cap. I cannot help but imagine myself wearing that headset because it looks comfortable. The battery life of the HoloLens 2 is about 2-3 hours of active use. Although the battery life is relatively short, we can expect to see future developments of the HoloLens series to improve their battery life.