The past, present, and future of virtual reality gaming
In today’s post, we’ll talk about “The Past, Present, and Future of Virtual Reality Gaming.” We all know that computational power is growing at an extremely fast rate in recent decades. We came so far that our smartphones are much faster than the computers used in Apollo 11 Rocket.
At the current growth, Virtual Reality may be common in the upcoming years. Before moving forward, let’s see the major differences between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) VR is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment.
Virtual Reality, unlike conventional user interfaces, immerses the user in an experience. Users are absorbed and able to connect with 3D environments rather than watching a screen in front of them.
Augmented reality (AR) is an immersive experience of a real-world environment in which computer-generated perceptual information is augmented by objects in the real world, often by multiple sensory modalities such as visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.
Examples of Augmented Reality Games can be Pokemon Go and Ingress, whereas, for VR, it’s Beat Saber and Superhot. The major reason for VR to be more successful is that the experience can be very immersive in a realistic environment. It could be similar to or completely different from the real world because everything is simulated using computer programming.
But the applications of VR are not only limited to gaming, but also medical or military training and many other interactive educational topics. Currently, standard virtual reality systems produce realistic images, sounds, and other sensations that mimic a user’s physical presence in a virtual world using virtual reality headsets or multi-projected environments.
A person using virtual reality equipment can look around the artificial world, move around inside it, and interact with virtual features or items. VR headsets with a small screen in front of the eyes are widely used to achieve this effect, but it can also be achieved by specially built rooms with several large screens.
Virtual reality typically incorporates audio and video feedback, but may also allow other types of sensory and force feedback through haptic technology, a better experience for the users. Now, let’s look at some of the work being done by the companies in VR tech. Palmer Luckey developed the Oculus Rift prototype in 2010.
This prototype which was built on a shell of another virtual reality headset was only capable of rotational tracking. But it had a 90-degree vision range, which had previously been unknown on the consumer market. It had some distortion issue at the launch which was fixed in a couple of software patches.
In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR for around $3 billion. In 2013, Valve discovered and freely shared the breakthrough of low-persistence displays which makes a lag-free and smear-free display of VR content possible. This was implemented in all of the future headsets by Oculus.
Valve revealed its SteamSight concept at the beginning of 2014, which was a predecessor to both commercial headsets in 2016. It shared important features with consumer headsets, including separate 1K displays per eye, low persistence, wide-ranging location tracking, and fresh lense.
The Virtual Reality HTC Vive headset and controllers were revealed by HTC and Valve in 2015. The collection included Lighthouse tracking technology, which used wall-mounted “basic stations” for infrasound light positioning.
Sony has revealed in 2014 the PlayStation 4 video game console Project Morpheus, a virtual reality headset. Google revealed in 2015 Cardboard, a stereo viewer: it puts your smartphone in the holder of the carton and wears it on your face. Michael Naimark has been designated the latest VR division of Google’s first-ever ‘resident artist.’
The Kickstarter campaign for Gloveone, by NeuroDigital Technologies, a pair of gloves providing motion tracking and haptic feedback, was successfully funded with over $150,000 in contributions. Today, Gloveone can be used with both hands to sense & interact with virtual objects on screen/VR glasses. At least 230 companies developed products related to VR until 2016.
Many of them had dedicated AR and VR communities – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Samsung. Most headsets released that year were used to dynamic binaural audio. However, haptic interfaces have not been well designed and most hardware packages have button-operated interactive interfaces. Visually, displays had a low enough resolution and frame rate that virtual images could still be identified.
HTC released the HTC Vive SteamVR headset for the first time in 2016. It was the first major commercial release of sensor-based monitoring, enabling users to move freely within a specific area. A patent filed in 2017 by Sony revealed that the Vive for PlayStation VR was developing a similar location monitoring system with the potential to create a wireless headset.
In 2019, the Oculus Rift S and an independent headset, the Oculus Quest were released by Oculus. In comparison to external outside-in tracking in previous generations of headsets, these headsets were used inside-out tracking. Recently, Facebook launched the 2nd Generation Oculus Quest for $299.
With a revised all-in-one form factor, new Touch controllers, and a display resolution of 1832×1920 pixels per eye, Quest 2 moves the state of VR forward. Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon, XR2 Platform, and 6GB of RAM, it’s supposed to run everything much faster than any other VR headsets in the consumer market.
“It will help up to 90Hz display,” according to the company, as well as “The Best VR Games and Experience ever.” Now let’s talk about the major concerns among the end-users – “Privacy” The persistent tracking required by all VR systems makes the technology particularly useful for, and vulnerable to, mass surveillance.
The growth of virtual reality would expand the capacity for data collection of personal behaviors, gestures, and reactions while lowering the costs. And some of the big names, such as “Oculus” are now owned by Facebook. So here you can grasp the point.
So, what does the future for VR look like? With the lockdown restrictions in 2020, VR is experiencing an enormous rise. The global VR market is expected to reach $62.1 billion in 2027, according to Grand View Research. Between 2020 and 2027, market researchers expect an annual growth rate of over 20%. Does this all mean that we will never touch a computer again once we perfect the VR Technology?
Well, No. VR is supposed to sit right with the PC, as it’s more focused on software optimization. Companies must strive harder to make innovations accessible to all. Virtual Reality is not going to change our current work PC or smartphone for now but it will certainly change the way we play games or use technology for studies and medical purposes.
So, can we see something like “Ready Player One” become a reality? Probably yes. To reach the level of a “Ready Player One” Game, it requires an extremely high resolution, refresh rates, frame rates, perfected kinesthetic feedback, and most importantly, a mass market.
Tactile feedback is used in almost all consumer-ready products, as well as pre-commercial products that are expected to enter consumer markets in the next year or two. Kinesthetic feedback, on the other hand, is rarely present in high-end and custom systems and is seriously lacking in consumer goods. Even in high-end devices, advanced haptics features like thermal variation are uncommon.
There is even a game called “The Oasis Beta” which was released to coincide with Ready Player One, but it is far from the real projection of the Game. According to some VR developers, we would be having enough technology within the next 7-10 years to create a game like Ready Player One. We now understand that VR will be on exponential growth in the future.