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Product Design Explorations

Exploration, Thoughts & Pitfalls of Designing

My First Virtual Realty Experience: VR Headsets, Head Mounted Displays(HMD)

The first home experience with virtual reality was using Google Cardboard. Basically, the poor man's headset. ; ) It is great if you are not 100% sold on buying into the high dollar variety. At $15.00 it gives you a jumpy glimpse into the potential of VR. As long as you keep in mind it is a phone and folded cardboard giving you the experience.

There are a few shortcomings worth noting.  There is no head strap. This means you must make a conscious effort to hold it up to your face for the whole experience. This breaks the experience. The HMD has a single button which is a loose metal washer on the side of the cardboard itself that when slid downward it acts as a button. This too feels very clunky. You will see black on the edges and it is not a perfect FOV. This HMD also can have significant light leakage. I would say if you have any interest at all in VR give this a shot it is a very low price for entry. You can grab it on amazon for $15.

My wife and I were walking around the mall and I saw they were doing Vive demos at the Microsoft store. We jumped in line and waited. It is always a funny experience watching others in VR especially when it is room scale. I was directed to prepare myself for this and that. I signed a Microsoft waiver and I stepped into the room scale boundaries. At this point, I was ready to be underwhelmed. The first demo was "The Blu" produced by WEVR Labs. It was a very powerful experience. This is what prompted me to look at the PS4 VR to hold me over for the Vive.

The Upgraded Cardboard Experience consists of a more durable plastic head mounted display. It also does have a strap. A nice feature on this cousin of the Cardboard is adjustable lenses so depending on your eye spacing you can adjust accordingly. Overall, this helps get rid of unnecessary fuzziness that you may see on the Cardboard. The version I linked above actually comes with a remote control. The version I have does not have a remote so I can not say whether it works well but, if it works it sure would be better than using a metal washer. This experience is actually a significant upgrade to the Google Cardboard. For not even $10 more you can by leaps and bounds improve your experience.

My biggest purchase to date is the Playstation VR Headset. It seemed to make more sense than a Oculus or a Vive because I only have Apple computers and I already had a PS4. This by a long shot destroyed the other two previous experiences. By the time the VR Worlds intro was finished I was sold and very happy with my decision to buy a real VR Headset. There was no light leaking. The display has a rubber lining that feels pretty comfortable. You can use the PS4 controller or the PS4 Move Controllers. The biggest point of frustration is two things. Lots of cords and if you don't double check camera height there can be popping if your controllers dip out of view of the camera. I find if you spend a few minutes to adjust camera based on user you will avoid that popping. 

Josh Mortenson