A little break from my normal stream of consciousness tonight… While I’ve spent the past couple weeks going back and forth about trying a new hobby–3D printing–I’ve also been wavering on cancelling my Oculus Rift pre-order to pay for the new toy.
I was reading some comments by the head of the Oculus department at Facebook (remember–Facebook bought Oculus a year or two back), talking about how VR computing was probably still “around 10 years away” from being part of the mainstream. I was also looking through Engadget’s coverage of this morning’s rollout of the first Oculus Rift-compatible titles: all games. No other cool applications, just games.\
Want to know a not-very-secret? I’m not a gamer. I spend so much time dealing with the rest of my life that I’ve never really developed a penchant for playing video games. Sure, a couple times I’ve messed with MLB The Show on a Play-something platform. Once Micah got me to sit down with him and play 10 minutes of the recent Star Wars game on the Xbox. Oh, and I do have to admit enjoying games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Overall though, gaming just isn’t my thing.
At first, I wanted to keep the preorder for the Oculus Rift because–well, it was the last piece of tech that I ordered specifically for Micah and I to enjoy together. Micah–as many of you know–loved his games. He would have had a blast with FPS and MMO games in a virtual reality environment. The truth is he’s no longer here. Aviela plays Minecraft (which is, apparently, also coming to Oculus Rift and it’s chief rival, HTC Vive) and Roblox (a very Minecraft-like virtual world web-based game). $1,000+ in gaming gear ($600 for the Rift, $350-600 for a new video card sufficient to run it, and then ??? for the Oculus Touch controllers coming out likely sometime this summer) just seems like a lot of money to spend to play Minecraft.
So, I started looking at the HTC Vive as a possible, less-gaming intensive introduction to VR. Guess what? It’s mainly a gaming system too. Sure, there’s this supposedly incredibly cool VR painting program included, but then it’s all about the games. Oh, and the cost of admission is at least equally high: $800 for the Vive (which includes the VR touch controllers) and still $350-600 for a video card to run it.
You know what does interest me though? The Microsoft HoloLens. The $3000 developer kit HoloLens. No, I’m not buying one–yet. The augmented reality, or AR, concept is where my non-gaming interests would seem to find their match. I want to control my computer like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. reaching out and opening folders with a wave of my hands, grabbing objects and manipulating them in front of me with my own hands. I know the Vive has the potential to do some of that, as it does include a forward-facing camera to allow you to sort of see through the virtual world. However, this does not yet seem to be a focus of the device. The camera in the Vive is more intended to help you not bump into objects in your real-world room while you’re playing in the virtual world.
For right now, I’m actually considering something like the new LG G5 “Friend” VR setup. I’d love to just be able to plug the headset into my phone and watch a movie on a plane. That’s likely enough VR for me for now. Don’t think I’m dragging my desktop PC with me on vacation so I can do that with a Vive or Rift.
What are your thoughts on VR? Am I being silly considering dumping my Oculus Rift order and just waiting until there’s a practical reason for me to have one–or a Vive–or a HoloLens–or whatever may come next?
I’m pretty sure you can all tell where I’m leaning…