Virtual and Augmented Reality headset technology has gone through major evolutions since its invention in 1968. And, if you’ve had the chance to try VR, you’ll have encountered dinosaurs in the jungle or done a hair-raising parkour on top of the mountains. a skyscraper, all from the comfort of your living room.
VR experiences are ambitious and impressive for new users. However, with more tech-savvy buyers, it’s not unusual for the avid VR enthusiast to demand a wider field of view, better sound, and extended battery life.
The virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality industries are estimated to be worth A$39 billion globally today. This number is expected to grow to AU$350 billion by 2028 – one of the biggest potential markets for this technology is the healthcare sector. Globally, it was worth A$10.81 trillion in 2018 and would greatly benefit from virtual and augmented reality applications in surgery or diagnostics.
The new headsets have higher resolution, are less bulky and can be worn with glasses. Some aren’t headsets at all, but actually place you in the metaverse, using augmented reality technology to take you on a sensory journey through a virtual world.
These are the most exciting VR headsets on the market today.
Intended for professional use of VR technology by architects, helicopter pilot trainees and simulation pilots, this headset has a very high resolution, supporting an 8K Ultra High Definition display.
The XTAL VR headset has a 180 degree field of view and special 3D audio provided by an integrated sound card, the immersion felt when wearing the headset is perfect for complex design or immersive experiences.
Another standout feature of this headset is the built-in jump motion sensor, which can track your hand movements and represent them in virtual reality, eliminating the need for handheld controllers.
This is a VR headset connected to a PC running SteamVR, popular game titles on the platform appeal to a wide range of gamers such as Skyrim and Ultimate Fishing Simulator, the headset has all the high end specs for immerse you in another world and provide you with hours of entertainment.
This SteamVR-enabled headset has the highest resolution on the market, managing 2,488 by 2,488 pixels to each eye, making it excellent for gaming. The huge range of games and experiences available on the platform is further expanded with access to HTC’s own VR software store, Viveport, you get a two-month subscription upon purchase.
The headset connects to your computer via a 4.87 meter cable and link box, it has a 120 degree field of view and a 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate. It requires a computer with a high-end graphics card and sound card and requires a DisplayPort 1.4 interface for full resolution.
Audio is well supported by powerful amplifiers and 3D spatial sound integration, Hi-Res certified headphones deliver immersive soundscapes that help you when listening to zombies. A 120-degree field of view and 90/120Hz refresh rates allow for smooth, responsive gameplay.
You need to mount two SteamVR base stations close to ceiling height and while this setup is a bit fiddly, you get the best possible tracking of your movements for replication in the VR gaming space. Major titles such as Half-Life Alyx look absolutely stunning with this headset on, the incredibly detailed textures and environments look spectacular, and other characters’ movements are smooth and always crisp.
The only problem is the handheld controls that are required to use VR, they are archaic. The same controllers were used by HTC with their original vive release in 2016, but the headset is compatible with other controllers, including those from the Valve Index.
Vuzix M4000 Smart Glasses
With practical applications in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, warehousing and field services, augmented reality is the dark horse of virtual technologies and Vuzix’s line of six wearable augmented reality goggles allows you to see your lap time and coaches instructions when swimming or safely grind a metal part to customize it according to the virtual instructions.
The Vizix M4000 is essentially a laptop computer with the addition of a camera and screen, it lets you merge on-screen instructions with real-world applications in real time, dramatically increasing productivity and conveys instructions precisely.
64 GB of memory and 6 GB of Ram are more than enough to use the augmented reality device for its industrial applications and it weighs only 222 grams. As the M4000 was designed for professional applications, the resolution of 854×480 pixels in the right eye is sufficient.
Battery life is 2-3 hours, which would be more of a problem if Vuzix hadn’t made the batteries capable of “hot swapping” and being replaced while the goggles remain on, by retaining all the information that might have been on the screen.
This successor to the legendary Oculus Rift is now made by Meta, formerly known as Facebook, which paid A$2.81 billion to own the rights to the technology featured in the Rift and reviewed the specs, it’s easy to understand why.
A resolution of 1832 x 1920 per eye makes fine detail visible and a 2-3 hour battery life means the Meta Quest 2 is one of the best VR headsets you can buy if you want to game for longer periods of time, the storage is just as important. like 256GB and the 6GB of RAM eliminates any lag.
The only downsides to buying this headset are the fact that you need to have a Facebook account to play it and the controllers that come with the headset are not rechargeable. The wide variety of quality games, good quality sound and stylish design make it lighter than its predecessor, weighing 498 grams.
Resident Evil and Microsoft Flight Simulator are some of the great titles in the list of games available on the Meta Quest 2 headset, it uses the reliable Android 10 operating system which means there are fewer bugs and fixes.
Sony Playstation VR
Sony has put a lot of effort into delivering a unique virtual experience with Playstation VR, while the wide variety of games that come standard on the Sony VR platform is impressive, their aging hardware has some shortcomings.
First, it’s heavy equipment with fiddly cables connecting it to your Playstation, second, a Playstation 5 VR2 headset is said to be in development, raising the question of whether to buy a technology that will soon be redundant.
It also doesn’t have the highest resolution, 960 x 1080 in each eye, but the quality and huge variety of VR games playable with the headset more than make up for the limitations of Sony’s Playstation VR.
It has a good quality microphone which comes in handy when playing online or you can use it to chat with friends while playing multiplayer. Use it to play Astro Bot Rescue Mission, a futuristic space adventure where audio input is required.
Although the headset is heavy, its weight is distributed very evenly and the thick padding is comfortable when the headset is worn for long periods of time, you can also wear goggles while using it.
Audio is also advanced, 3D sound is put to good use in adventure games where suspense is created through the use of this technology, you may need to listen to a team mate or a clue that will lead you to the next stage of the game.
Sony says their Playstation VR2 will arrive in early 2023, its price will likely reflect the wider industry, most VR headsets cost around AU$700 plus additional equipment such as a good computer, the Sony VR costing a bit more than 400 Australian dollars. The tech giant may decide to focus on the lower end of the market or come up with a higher spec offering that costs a bit more.