VAR devices blog [CS4240]

VR device: Valve Index

Resolution1440 x 1600
Refresh Rate80, 90, 120 or 144 Hz
Field of ViewAdjustable, up to 130 degrees
Face CushionAffixed to removable face interface, foam covered in anti-microbial microfiber cloth
Weight809g
PriceUS$999 (incl. 2 controllers and 2 base stations); US$499 (headset only)
Battery~6 hours

As an avid gamer, the main use I would find for VR headsets would be of course for games. Hence, after looking through the newest headsets, I thought that the Valve index seems to be the best VR headset currently due to its great hardware specs, comfort, long battery life and high tracking quality.

The index offers excellent resolutions at custom refresh rates, and in particular the 144Hz refresh rates makes pictures crystal clear. This is compared to other headsets that often offer limited refresh rate selections, though perhaps at slightly higher resolutions.

Although somewhat on the heavier side at ~800g without cables, users have given good reviews on its comfort. Reviews included how the head straps distributes weight well over a user’s head, and positive comments were made on how the straps were of high build quality.

On top of this, the index offer a great ~6h battery life, which is more than enough for most average users. Constantly having to bother with charging the battery would be annoying, and in my personal experiences with consoles, having to stop a game mid-way due to dead batteries is the worst feeling.

Lastly, the index comes with what many users have reviewed as the ‘best’ tracking technology. The index offers two base stations that track user movement effectively, along with novel controllers that convey a person’s actions effectively into the games. This allows games like Valve’s half-life:Alyx to truly shine, and offering users an experience other headsets cannot emulate.

That all being said, all this comes at a whooping cost of $999, which compared to the competition, is twice the price. This is likely to be a deal breaker for many people, which is a shame, since the hardware and software makes the Index likely the best headset available on the market right now.

MR device: Microsoft HoloLens

As I personally do not have any experiences with AR devices or their applications, I first sought to find what these devices could do and what some user favorite applications were.

Raptor EverySight, and its cycling application

Interestingly, although the market seemed to be rapidly growing, I did not find any of the popular applications to my personal interest. I would personally use AR glasses for purposes you would use a phone for, such as GPS, calorie counting, routing, and so on, but there did not seem to be readily available apps for such things. There were specific AR devices for things like cycling (which I enjoy), such as the Raptor EverySight, but the application itself seemed very lackluster when I saw it on youtube, especially when one considers the hefty price of US$599.

That said, I do find applications using Microsoft’s HoloLens to be the most interesting compared to its competition. It seems that HoloLens has found great success with industrial manufacturing and healthcare, along with healthcare education.

For manufacturers, HoloLens provides greatly improved guidance, allowing workers to be much more productive. The guided workers are able to have accelerated work processes, increasing productivity by decreasing errors.

For healthcare and healthcare education, the HoloLens provide a level of clarity for both patients and students alike that cannot be emulated through conventional means of communication. Patients are able to use the lens to very effectively see what they are suffering from and what the treatments might entail. For students, they are able to interact in situations that are otherwise dangerous or impossible in a conventional setting, allowing improved understanding and ability.

This is very hopeful for AR applications, because it showcases how good applications with good hardware can effectively improve situations. Both the manufacturing, health and education sectors have shown great numbers of improvement through the use of HoloLens, which may translate to other sectors in due time when proper applications are developed.

Nevertheless, despite the benefits, these HoloLens applications are customized for the manufacturing companies, which makes it less accessible to the average user. This might mean a very long wait time before AR applications could be valuable to the average user, which is rather disappointing considering how long many AR devices have been around for.

VR/MR Headsets Review – HW1

Despite not owning any VR devices, I have used some of the popular devices on the market at exhibition demos, or borrowing them from friends, so I have a pretty good idea of what the ideal VR experience would be like.

SpecsOculus Quest 2HTC Vive ProValve IndexOculus Rift S
Starting price (USD)$299$599$999$399
Screen resolution per eye (pixels)1832 x 19201440 x 16001440 x 16001280 x 1440
Field of view (degrees)90110~130110
Max refresh rate (Hz)909012080
Weight (g)503470809500
TrackingInside outLighthouseLighthouseInside out
Playtime (Battery capacity in hrs)2 to 3
GraphicsSnapdragon XR2PCPCPC
GamesOculus Quest Store (Android-based games)Steam VR & ViveportSteam VROculus Store & Steam VR
ControllersOculus TouchVive ControllersValve Index controllersOculus Touch

Favourite VR Device: Oculus Quest 2

One of the best VR headsets that are currently available which I would love to purchase, would be the Oculus Quest 2. It has a clean white design and built-in speakers which makes it good for portable use. This provides an immersive experience, eliminating the need for external speakers or additional peripherals. Another feature that I really enjoy is that you can set up the playing area and boundaries just by drawing it. Its portable design and quality is what makes its price point worth it.

Oculus also has one of the greatest software support behind it with a store full of amazing games that you can play as a standalone device. The developers make constant updates with the graphics improving and getting crispier every version. Its resolution and refresh rate is also one of the best in VR devices with at 1832 x 1920 and 90Hz as well as 6 degrees of freedom allowing for greater freedom of movement. In a nutshell, these amazing features make it one of the best choices available in the market right now as an all-in-one VR headset.

Favourite MR Headset: Microsoft Hololens 2

Although I do not own a MR Headset, I observed that the Microsoft Hololens is one of the best in the market at the moment. It has well designed ergonomics and looks comfortable to use compared to some of the bulkier headsets in the market. Less bulky headsets will allow for longer hours of use and less intrusive to user experience. Moreover, it also has an impressive 2K resolution of 2048 x 1080 pixels. In terms of environment understanding, it has improved spatial mapping capabilities compared to the first Hololens which means it will be able to operate at a faster rate. This, as well as 4 visible light cameras which means that it is able to track more movements, allowing for more interactivity with the environment.

The Hololens 2 is priced at an extremely high price point of $3500 and reasonably so, as it is targetted for business use. It is hopeful that the price point of future MR devices can be lowered to a comfortable consumer price point.

I am excited to see what the industry has to offer in the future and surely we will see leaps and bounds in the development of VR, AR, and MR technologies in the years to come.

VR and MR Headsets

List of headwear (unranked) I think are great 🙂

  1. Valve Index
  2. Oculus Quest
  3. Sony Playstation VR
  4. Microsoft Hololens 2
  5. Varjo XR-3

Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets

Oculus Quest 2 (Fave)

Oculus Quest 2 is my preferred VR device with its affordable price and ease of use. The Oculus Quest 2 comes with a price tag of 299 USD which is 100 cheaper than the earlier Oculus Quest without any skimping on the specs.

Design

What makes this my preferred VR headset is that it does not require any console, external PC, or screen in order for it to work i.e. standalone. This means no cables and a much less restrictive gaming experience as you are no longer tethered to a PC or another device. Furthermore, no wiring means that the set-up is quick and easy.

The headset and controls are also friendlier looking compared to other headsets where most headsets have a ‘gamer’ aesthetic that may be quite intimidating to new VR users.

Oculus Quest 2 Pre-orders Were Five Times Higher than Original Quest
Quest 2
HTC Vive Virtual Reality System: Amazon.sg: Electronics
HTC Vive

VR headsets are known to be clunky and heavy on the head which could dampen the VR experience be it through the loss of immersion (being fully aware you have a heavy contraption on your head) or physical pain. It is essential, for me at least, that a gaming headset should not be heavy and it is one of the reasons why I picked Oculus Quest 2 as my preferred VR Headset. Oculus Quest 2 weighs 503 g and is one of the lightest headsets in the market yet does not compromise on performance or specs. A lighter headset makes it easier to turn and move your head without straining your neck or causing the headset to swing and shift.

It should be noted though that according to reviews, the headset is prone to shifting when turning quickly due to less than desirable straps. Purchasing a better strap is recommended to combat this problem.

Battery

The headset is battery-powered and lasts about 2 to 2.5 hours which may seem short but it is long enough to accommodate multiple gaming sessions. According to a survey (VR/AR headsets average session time in U.S. 2018 by Arne Holst), most VR gaming sessions take about an average of 38 minutes, so the Oculus Quest 2 can fit about 4 sessions before needing to be recharged.

Weight and Fit

Specifications

As mentioned, the Oculus Quest 2 does not sacrifice performance for comfort. With 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, visuals are much sharper and clearer than other headsets in the market. This lends itself well to rendering games a much more believable and immersive experience.

It has a refresh rate of 72Hz currently, but 90Hz support will come in the future. 90Hz is not outstanding but it is far from terrible. It matches up to most standalone headsets in the market and given its price, already makes it a more worthy buy.

Miscellaneous

The game library for the Oculus Quest 2 is large and includes famous titles like Half-Life: Alyx and Superhot. Since the Oculus Quest 2 can be hooked up to a gaming PC, the headset can be used to play more graphically-intensive games or tethered-exclusive games.

A more controversial feature of the Oculus Quest 2 is that a Facebook account is needed to use the headset and this may be a moral dilemma for those that are more critical of the social media giant.

Augmented Reality (AR) & Mixed Reality (MR) Headsets/Glasses

Given that most MR headsets are way outside the regular consumer’s price range, my choice for most preferred headset is based on specifications.

Varjo-XR3 (Fave)

The Varjo-XR3 is my preferred MR headset based on its interesting set-up for creating high-resolution images and good specs.

Varjo Announces XR-3 and VR-3 Headsets – Specs, Price, Release Date

Design

The Varjo-XR 3 weighs in at 594 g which is one of the heavier MR headsets out there but I feel like that is justified by the impressive specs. In order to counteract the weight, a lot of attention is placed on the design of the straps to properly distribute the weight around the head.

Specifications

The headset specializes in providing one of the best human-eye resolutions in the market. For each eye, there is a screen consisting of two panels. The first panel has 1920 x 1920 display (71 pixels per degree) located in the user’s center of vision and another panel with a 2880 x 2720 display (30 pixels per degree) on the rest of the screen. This means that when looking straight you get a very sharp, crisp image but your peripheral is slightly less so (but still very good resolution). This is to mimic how the eye actually behaves, where the peripheral vision is not as clear as what you are focusing on.

Varjo Announces XR-3 and VR-3 Headsets – Specs, Price, Release Date
HeadsetMegapixels per-eye
Rift S1.8
Index2.3
Quest 23.5
Reverb G24.7
Varjo XR-3/VR-39.7

The headset has a refresh rate of 90Hz which may not be as high as the price seems to warrant but it matches up with most other headsets in the market. It does however have a very impressive field of view of 115 degrees which is one of the highest amongst the MR headsets in the market.

The Varjo XR-3 has very good passthrough fidelity and Varjo has released a demo showing someone threading a needle while wearing the XR-3.

Software

The software that Varjo XR-3 comes with has native support for Unity, Unreal Engine, and various industrial 3D software, like Autodesk VRED. Right now, it is being used for mainly design-related purposes like visualizing 3D models in real-life which helps cut down production costs and allows for remote working.

The Varjo XR-3 is not targeted towards consumers but instead businesses, hence the steep price. That said, the abilities and features the headset has to offer are a worthy investment for companies concerned with design. After successful iterations, perhaps Varjo might produce something for the regular joe.

Latest XR hardware review

COVID-19 had dominated the year 2020 like no other. Most of the countries were forced to go into a full lockdown to prevent the widespread of that horrible virus. A silver lining here is that online communication tools became the sole viable method to communicate and interact with each other. Thanks to that, applications such as VR Chat gained a lot of popularity. Moreover, to substitute the missing physical presence, virtual reality technologies were used to host ceremony and conferences around the world. For example, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay used a virtual reality solution to host a convocation ceremony.

Unlike the traditional media, to consume XR (extended reality) contents, hardware such as head mount displays or glasses are required. Fortunately, based on my research, there are many options available for various platforms with respective price ranges that fit everyone’s needs. To help fellow enthusiasts, who don’t yet own an XR device and want to experience this amazing technology, I have listed down a few latest VR (virtual reality) and MR (mixed reality) devices that are great in my opinion.

Latest VR devices

DevicePrice (USD)ResolutionRefresh RateFOVAudio
HP Reverb G$5992160×216090 Hz114ºOff-ear speakers
Valve Index$4991440×1600120 Hz130ºOff-ear speakers,
audio jack,
microphone
Oculus Quest 2$299 1832×192090 Hz90ºIntegrated stereo speakers, 3.5 mm headphone jack
Oculus Rift S$3991280×144080 Hz110ºIn-line audio speakers
1x 3.5 mm audio jack
HTC Vive Cosmos$6991920×108090 Hz110ºIn-line audio speakers

If I am to buy a VR device right now, I would definitely go for an Oculus Quest 2. Despite being the latest release of the Oculus Quest product line, Oculus Quest 2 is surprisingly affordable with the starting price of only USD 299 for 64GB version, which makes it a no-brainer choice for a starter VR device. On top of that, Occulus Quest 2 is highly portable since it does not have to tether to a VR capable machine to work. It has a high resolution (1832×1920 pixels per eye) and comes with built-in audio speakers. It is also equipped with 2 non-rechargeable touch controllers that provide great comfort for gaming.

Oculus Quest 2

The downsides of Oculus Quest 2 is that you need a Facebook account to use it, and it only has access to a limited number of games on Quest Store right now. However, creating a Facebook account is free and by tethering with a single USB-C cable, Oculus Quest 2 can also function as PCVR which has access to a bigger game library. Although the controllers are not rechargeable, using rechargeable AAA batteries does the trick. All in all, Oculus Quest 2 is a solid choice for both starters and veterans who are looking for an upgrade at the start of 2021.

Latest MR devices

DevicePrice (USD)ResolutionFOV
Magic Leap One$2,2951280×196040º
Microsoft HoloLens 2$3,5002048×108052°
Nreal Light$1,0001920×108052°

Among the listed devices, my perferred choice is Microsoft HoloLens 2. Since it is a successor of the original HoloLens, it has access to the wider range of programs. Having wider field of view than most of the devices, it also support more intuitive gestures that fit around natural interactions used in day-to-day lives; think pinches, pulls and drags, unlike the original HoloLens. Being developed by Microsoft, the developer ecosystem is relatively stronger. Dynamics 365 integrations, just like office 360 integrations, will soon be available too.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

That being said Microsoft HoloLens 2 is very pricy and slightly bulkier than my confort level. It may simply because the target auidence of the devices are industry workers and the benefits for user business seems justify the cost of it. I hope that in the near future more advanced and slimer devices for mixed reality become available.

Latest Device Analysis For VR/AR/MR

As technology develops and advances , the demand and potential in VR/AR/MR increases tremendously. Their sole purpose are no longer just an entertainment tool(e.g games) as they are increasingly being introduced into professional fields. For example, VR has been used for virtual room tour in real estate industry as a solution to overcome the COVID-19 epidemic which caused real-world home tour almost impossible.

According to Chinacourt.org(in Chinese), a legal news website run by the State Council, mentioned that between 1 Jan 2020 and 4 March 2020, “about 110” Chinese property companies (mostly small to medium sized) have gone bankrupt in 2020

However, “Beike”, an online Chinese real estate brokerage service, that has found success, as well as survived in COVID-19 period with the help and innovation from VR.

An example of an 3D overall view of a display room in Beike App
An example showing 360 degree VR view of a display room in Beike App

As a result, VR/AR/MR are truly the technology of the future, today.

In this post, i will first state some of the latest VR/AR/MR technologies available in the market and elaborate further on some of the interesting one, as well as my personal picks. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Some of the Latest Technologies

VR CAVE

So you may wonder what is CAVE stand for ? Well, it is an acronym that stands for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment.

It is a virtual reality space where the walls, the floor and ceiling, act as giant projection surfaces to create a highly immersive virtual environment. It is composed of several projectors mounted on racks, and directed by Computers with professional graphic cards.

In order to experience CAVE, users will need to equip themselves with stereoscopic glasses and interact with projected visual content. The VR glasses are attached with tracking devices to provide signals to the computer on how to adjust the projected images as users walk around the environment. In details, the perspective is calculated in real time to match the user’s point of view.

One of the advantages that CAVEs have as compared to normal Head Mounted Device (HMD) is that they offer users complete freedom of movement and a greater field of vision.

Another advantage is that it enhances collaboration capabilities with its 1-to-1 display scale. As a result, it is the ideal place to share experience/information to stakeholders, which also leads to enhancement in the decision-making process.

Photo by ST Engineering Antycip

However, VR CAVEs are built and design targeting in the professional fields such as crisis management training and the “CAVE” is just too big and not portable for normal uses.

Oculus Quest 2 (My Preferred VR Choice)

As a result, Oculus Quest 2 that developed by Facebook is my number one choice for VR device.

The price of Quest 2 is reasonable starts at USD$ 299. It is a standalone headset that installed with the highest-end processor, the Snapdragon XR2. It is also a made-for-VR chip which includes some additional features that make it even compatible for VR usages.

Quest 2 has a per-eye resolution of 1832 x 1920(3.5 megapixels) with ‘screen door effect’ removed. This makes the graphic display in Quest 2 feels a bit more real than its previous version (Oculus Quest) and other VR devices.

Explanation: The screen door effect is a mesh-like appearance that occurs where visible gaps between pixels are seen on an electronic screen, usually when viewed at close proximity. 

Quest 2 has hidden integrated speakers that allow audio to emanate from the headband. As a result, user will no longer need to wear an additional headphones to get that maximum immersion from Quest 2.

Last but not least, as mentioned before, Quest 2 is a standalone device, unlike HTC Vive Cosmos(require PC connection to work) and PS VR (require PlayStation 4 to work). Therefore, Quest 2 offers the greatest physical freedom by completely removing the cables and not requiring any external device to handle processing.

Overall, Oculus Quest 2 consist of most of the required features and standard that a user can expected at its reasonable price. Therefore, if i would like to get a VR headset for myself, i probably will go for Oculus Quest 2.

Mojo Vision’s Augmented Reality Contact Lens

In 2020, Mojo Vision has announced their plan to build the world’s first true smart contact lens, called the Mojo Lens. This Mojo Lens consists of the smallest densest dynamic display yet, the world’s most power-efficient image sensor optimised for computer vision, a custom wireless radio , and motion sensors for eye movement tracking and image stabilisation.

The main highlight of the Mojo Lens is the 14K Pixel Per Inch (PPI) display that produce a world-record pixel pitch of over 14000 ppi and a pixel density of over 200Mppi, making it the smallest, densest display ever designed for AR technologies.

In my opinion, this is definitely a huge leap from the current VR/AR/MR technologies. However, such technologies might take some time to mature and get accepted by the public. Since nobody are willing to put something digital into their bare eyes. Nonetheless, i felt that Mojo Vision could plays an important role in advancing and maturing the field of VR/AR/MR technologies.

Nreal Light (My Preferred Choice For MR)

Nreal Light is an affordable MR glass that is light (as the product name shows), fashionable. It is also very comfortable to wear as it comes with 3 types of nose pads, so that user can attach accordingly to the device that fits their nose the most. In my opinion, comfort is an important factor in the design of the MR devices as i believe that one day, everyone will wear it from day to day.

Front view of the device

Moreover, it comes with integrated audio, this also means that it does not requires you to plug in your own set of headphones through an external jack.

It also consist of a feature where user can actually connect glasses to the USB C port of their laptop or computer so that user’s computer will detect the glass as the secondary display and so mirroring the content of user’s PC on the glass is made possible with Nreal.

Of course nothing is prefect and Nreal defintely needs to improve further in future. However, it’s reasonable price and the features. as well as the quality are the main reasons that i picked it as my preferred MR choice. Although Hololens 2 by Microsoft are probably the best MR devices available right now, but it is way too expensive for its price and it is specifically designed for industry use.

Therefore, depending on the purpose of usages, i felt that Nreal Light consist of all necessary functionalities available as well as a fashionable and ergonomic product design, which is why i picked it for my MR choice.

Bonus

Creating Full Sensory Experience

Extended Reality (XR) is commonly used to refer to all types of VR/AR/MR in the aggregate. While i was researching for such articles from google, i came across an interesting article that mentioned about XR with scent unit.

One example is Vaqso, a Japanese company that created a scent unit that can be used/attached with any head-mounted device(HMD). The device contains five cartridges of pre-mixed scents. Surprisingly, one of their scent collection includes one scent called Zombie. Perhaps i guess it is to fulfil the demand in zombie related VR game out there 😛

The Vaqso scent unit attaches to a VR headset and offers five scent compartments to coordinate with a game experience.
Image © Vaqso

Other than scent, Brooklyn-based start-up company Feelreal has developed a mask unit that not only provides scent, but also vibration, heat, wind, and mist to enhance the user experience.

The Feelreal mask unit shown with four types of VR devices; it clips onto the headset, and connects via Bluetooth.
(Image © Feelreal, Source)

All in all, we can see that virtual reality technology has evolved tremendously throughout the years. We can expect more as future is full of possibility.

I am excited and can’t wait to dive into the future with CS4240 Interaction Design for Virtual and Augmented Reality.

A Quest for the Best VR and MR Devices

Upon being given this assignment, the first question I thought was how was I supposed to give a concrete and accurate review of a headset without owning one myself? Even so, having used several of them in public demonstrations and going through passionate online reviews in hopes of buying one myself eventually, I had an idea of what I would like for my first headset. There are many different kinds of headsets built for different platforms with their own unique features and purposes. For this, there are several categories of specifications that I have considered while choosing my preferred headsets such as, the price, comfort and ease of use, space needs, productivity and performance, as well as how immersive it feels.

VR, AR, MR, we are spoilt for choice in every category.


VR Devices Considered:

There are many kinds of VR headsets that I have considered, the first of which being Google Cardboard due to its cheap price and extreme portability. This made me consider other mobile VR headsets as well such as the Homido and Zeiss VR One. They are one of the most light-weight headsets under the $100 price range and also do not require any space or lengthy procedures to set up which makes it really accessible. However, headsets such as the Google Cardboard have simple but clunky controls, most include turning your head and staring at a button for some time to click it which isn’t exactly the smoothest experience that you can get. As an entry-level headset, it is still a decent choice that requires little commitment and budget.

It also comes with so many different designs and customizations.


Preferred VR Device: Occulus Quest 2

One of the best VR headsets that are currently available which I would love to own, would be the Oculus Quest 2. It has a very beautiful white design and built-in speakers which are really great. This provides a really immersive experience, eliminating the need for external speakers or additional headsets. Its sleek controllers are also one of the best in terms of comfort and battery life, lasting even longer than the headset’s battery itself. Another feature that I really love about the Oculus Quest 2 is that it has no need for external tracking base stations like the Valve Index. You can set up your playing area by just drawing it which makes it really flexible in my opinion. Its weight has also improved from the previous Oculus Quest along with an affordable price tag of USD 299 to 399.

The best parts of Oculus Quest 2 has got to be the fact that it can be used both as a standalone headset as well as a PC VR headset that is accessible using a fiber-optic cable called the Oculus Link which makes it extremely versatile. Occulus also has one of the greatest software support behind it with a store full of amazing games that you can play as a standalone device. The developers make constant updates with the graphics improving and getting crispier every version. Its resolution and refresh rate is also one of the best in VR devices with at 1832 x 1920 and 90Hz as well as 6 degrees of freedom allowing for greater freedom of movement. In a nutshell, these amazing features make it one of the best choices available in the market right now as an all-in-one VR headset.

A clear improvement in graphics from version 1 to version 23 in Occulus Quest 2.


MR Devices Considered:

The GodView 5K Glasses, an impressive name for such a small device and one of the best in terms of design that I have come across. For one, it does not look like you are wearing a huge block on your head but instead more like a pair of sunglasses which is also what the industry strives for as headsets get lighter and less bulky each year. It is also multi-compatible with most devices and claims to sport a 5K high resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels. In terms of environment tracking however, it is almost non-existent and is more suited for watching a movie on a big TV screen as it is literally just a screen in front of you. In terms of purpose, it would be perfect as an extended screen that you can use on the go. However, after further research, I found out that this device actually has really bad latency and image quality with a blurring effect on the edges of the video. It also has really bad heat problems which makes it bad for long-term use therefore I’ll be passing on this one as it seems like it still needs a lot of improvements and is too early in its development stages.

The God View, great design but still too early in most aspects.


Preferred MR Headset: Microsoft Hololens 2

After seeing multiple demos and reviews of MR headsets, I have to say, the Microsoft Hololens is one of the absolute best as of current. Firstly, it has one of the best ergonomics and looks extremely comfortable to wear compared to some of the bulkier headsets such as the HP MR Headset. This is also one of the most important categories for me when looking for an MR headset, as bulkier headsets will not allow for long hours of use and an immersive user experience. Moreover, it also has an impressive 2K resolution of 2048 x 1080 pixels. In terms of environment understanding, it has improved spatial mapping capabilities compared to the first Hololens which means it will be able to understand at a faster rate. This, as well as 4 visible light cameras which means that it is able to track more movements, allowing for more interactivity with the environment.

Although I believe that the Hololens 2 is one of the best MR devices currently, I still feel that it is slightly too expensive being priced at $3500 and understandably so, as it is targetted at companies, for business use. Other similar devices such as the Magic Leap One also costs at least a few thousand dollars which is why I feel that they still have ways to go before reaching the consumer market.

All in all, I am excited to see what the industry has to offer in the future and surely we will see leaps and bounds in the development of VR, AR, and MR technologies in the years to come.

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.