VR headsets have exploded in popularity over the past few years. This is hardly a surprise, given that VR gaming, the metaverse, and similar technologies have also become so popular. VR headsets are one of the best ways to experience these new cutting-edge attractions. You’ll soon find out which virtual reality headsets can best fit your particular needs.
- What is Virtual Reality?
- What is a VR Headset?
- Virtual Reality Headset Accessories
- VR Headsets vs. Augmented Reality Devices
- What Industries Are Using VR Technology?
- Most Popular VR Headsets & Brands
- Facebook, Meta, and the World of VR Headsets
- VR Headsets and Other Devices To Enter the Metaverse
- A Brief Overview of Metaverse Companies
- Donning VR Headsets To Enjoy Metaverse Games
What is Virtual Reality?
VR headsets let you enter into virtual reality. But what does that mean? VR is essentially synonymous with telepresence. It’s an experience where you’re physically located in one environment while experiencing another. This is possible mainly thanks to the immersion offered by VR headsets and associated gear.
A VR headset consists of sensors to track your field of vision and two screens that provide a stereoscopic display. As you move your head, the sensors will compensate by altering the display’s simulated field of vision. This gives you the ability to look all around virtual reality.
These environments can be simple games. But they can also be fully immersive 3D worlds. Not only do headsets let you look around, but gear such as data gloves with force feedback can also fully simulate interactions with objects in that digital world. It’s an immersive experience where you essentially enter a new world.
What is a VR Headset?
It’s important to remember that there’s more to VR headsets than just the stereoscopic display. VR headsets often incorporate stereo sound, gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers, and structured light systems. Some headsets even have built-in input devices to use as a game controller. These features work together to make the sights, sounds, and environment of virtual reality feel like your physical reality.
The more accurate the headset’s simulation, the more processing power it needs. Less expensive and immersive virtual reality headsets might simply use a smartphone. But the most advanced models require a PC and high-end graphic card’s processing power.
Virtual Reality Headset Accessories
VR headsets are one of the most critical components of a fully immersive experience. But the experience is even better when paired with additional hardware options. Some of these accessories, like camera rigs, can help you create VR content. Others like trackers and hand controllers can help you interact with the digital world. And all of the following accessories can help you feel more at home inside VR while working alongside your virtual reality headsets.
VR Controllers & Backpacks
VR controllers act alongside VR headsets to implement interactivity with the environment. The headset lets you see all the various items within the virtual landscape. But it’s the VR controllers that give you the ability to grab, use, or otherwise manipulate objects.
Controllers come in a wide variety of different form factors. Different controllers might work with your hands, feet, fingers, or other body parts.
They can also work with VR systems to simulate walking, running or even flying. Controllers translate your body’s movement into almost anything you could imagine within VR.
PC backpacks also work within the context of free-form movement. VR can use a lot of power. A PC backpack essentially acts as a power connector that will unshackle you from your computer when you’re immersed in a VR game. These two devices, controllers and backpacks, are often used to together increase your overall freedom of motion.
Image attribution: hp
Virtual Reality Gloves, Masks & Shoes
Of course, there are also options to take interaction in virtual spaces to the next level. VR gloves work with VR headsets to simulate the methods used to interact with the standard offline world. VR gloves and multi-angle finger tracking let you actually see and use your hands in VR.
VR can also stimulate senses other than touch, sight, and hearing. VR masks can create hundreds of different smells to simulate the environments you’re exploring in virtual reality. Some can even simulate vibrations and tactile sensations. Advanced masks could let you feel digital raindrops on your face in VR while smelling the scent of rain on warm summer nights.
VR shoes can take this further by allowing for immersive movement. The shoes incorporate wheels that spin counter to your gait. They let you take strides without moving in the real world. But those movements translate into locomotion within the VR environment.
Image attribution: Feelreal
Virtual Reality Suits
VR headsets paired with any of the previous gear can vastly increase your overall immersion. The gear often adds additional points where the system can track your movement or provide sensory stimulation. But virtual reality suits essentially cover your entire body with sensors and stimulation points.
VR suits perfectly track almost all of your body’s motion while the VR headset handles head tracking. Combining the two items means that almost every movement you make will be mirrored in virtual reality. The VR environment can even send back sensory information to the suit. This includes heat and cold, weight, the roughness or smoothness of objects, and other hepatics.
Combining virtual reality headsets and virtual reality suits will sync up with most of your senses. For example, a VR simulation of a field in summer won’t just be something you look at. You’ll feel the sun, grass, and breeze.
Image attribution: Synesthesia Suit
Virtual Reality Treadmills & Guns
VR shoes offer one solution to natural movement within virtual reality. But VR treadmills provide a perfect solution for different usage cases. These treadmills are often paired with VR headsets when people want to get a workout.
Imagine being able to push yourself to record-breaking speeds while you see a wide variety of fantastic scenery go by in VR. Some people also use VR treadmills in physically taxing games where they can move rapidly in any direction. You can walk, run, and even jump on VR treadmills and have that perfectly translate into the virtual environment displayed in your headset. This type of use is often paired with VR guns.
VR guns are another type of virtual reality controller. But as the name suggests, these devices mimic the look and feel of guns. This makes them an ideal accessory for shooter games or military training within virtual reality.
Image attribution: Virtuix
VR Headsets vs. Augmented Reality Devices
VR headsets are excellent, but they’re not the only option to explore digital worlds. Discussions of virtual reality often bring up something called augmented reality (AR). It’s a similar but quite distinct technology. VR puts you in a new world, but AR layers the digital world on top of the standard physical one.
At the moment, smartphone apps are the most popular and economical way to use AR. In fact, if you’ve ever played Pokémon GO, you’ve experienced augmented reality. Even Snapchat filters are a form of augmented reality. AR is showing up in almost every field and pastime.
What Industries Are Using VR Technology?
It’s clear that VR headsets can be used for a wide variety of different things. Add in the right accessories, and VR can be the perfect tool for gamers, athletes, and educators alike. VR is still a relatively new technology. But a wide variety of industries are already incorporating virtual reality into their business plan.
The following examples highlight some of the most impressive and innovative uses of VR. The scope of these examples highlights just how far VR has come in a short amount of time. Likewise, it demonstrates that VR has something to add to any industry.
The first thing many people think of when they hear about VR is how it might fit into gaming. And gaming has indeed seen some of the most impressive initial developments with high-quality VR headsets.
Video games have been creating immersive 3D environments ever since the 1990s. Every year has brought more realistic 3D models and more immersive effects, which has paired almost perfectly with virtual reality headsets. VR gear is already attuned to the same type of 3D environment used in modern games. And everything that benefits virtual reality also compliments aspects of video games.
Open 3D worlds are the backbone of both VR and modern gaming. And VR is pushing it to a whole new level. VR allows for more immersive full-body controls that can literally put people into the game. And VR’s ability to provide realistic visual feedback can make a video game’s presentation extraordinarily realistic.
Most people dream of traveling the world and seeing all of its wonders. Unfortunately, there’s always the issue of time, money, and, of course, safety. But VR headsets are changing people’s concept of seeing the world. Imagine instantly traveling to any of the most unique locations in the world. For example, imagine traveling to the world’s largest building.
The Burj Khalifa towers over the surrounding area and offers a fantastic view. And you can do more than just see it in VR. The VR experience in Mission 828 lets you take a virtual parachute jump from the top of the Burj Khalifa. The tourism board of the Faroe Islands responded to the pandemic by creating a virtual tour of the area and all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. VR tourism is a rapidly growing area where people can safely travel the world from their own homes.
The sports industry is working with VR in a few different ways. The first is an obvious use for VR headsets. The industry is working to give fans a chance to watch sporting events through virtual reality. This intersection of VR and sports is quite similar to how the entertainment industry brings music concerts into the metaverse.
The sports industry is also using VR to help train athletes. For example, the NFL is currently using VR to train players without stepping onto the field. And it’s being used in a similar way for basketball, soccer, and even professional poker.
Of course, they are racing in particular benefits tremendously from VR. NASCAR is using it to help train racers with circuit recognition and trajectories. And all of that comes without any risk to people’s safety. VR gives athletes a chance to experiment with their strategies.
Virtual reality is changing almost every facet of the music industry. VR is helping people create, appreciate, and perform music in various ways. You can already find several specialized apps that use VR to help students learn, hone, and perfect their musical craft. For example, Teach-U: VR gives you the ability to take up drums or play piano in VR.
People aren’t just donning their VR headsets to learn how to create music. Online VR concerts and performances are among the fastest-growing trends in this new digital universe. Famous performers like Ariana Grande, Twenty One Pilots, and Justin Bieber have all performed in the metaverse to ever-growing crowds of fans. Virtual reality is even reimagining aspects of the industry that people take for granted. For example, people think of music videos as passive. But VR lets you step into music videos.
You’ve already seen cases where people have used VR to train themselves in dangerous situations. And the healthcare industry is using VR headsets to tackle one of the most critical aspects of healthcare – surgery. Surgeons can use VR to train themselves in virtual surgery that won’t put any lives at risk. Medical Realities accomplishes this vital feat through advanced VR, AR, and even games.
The world-renowned Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles is also researching the possible therapeutic use of VR for patients. People who’ve suffered from strokes, amputations, and spinal-cord injuries usually have to work through lengthy and taxing physical rehab sessions. The hospital hopes that these patients may be able to find faster and more efficient rehabilitation through virtual reality. This technique could help people tackle the problem more efficiently. And it could make the rehabilitation process far more comfortable.
The manufacturing industry was recently polled on its overall opinion on VR. And the majority of manufacturers believe that VR and AR are necessary for continued competitiveness over the next three years.
Consider the case of an expert located far away from a manufacturing component in need of repair. VR headsets could give him the ability to essentially step into colleagues’ shoes in a position to work with the damaged part. He could offer remote help and guidance as if he was standing right there. This collaborative potential even extends to engineering. Product designers can work together to build virtual prototypes without worrying about costs.
As with sports and medicine, VR also gives people in the manufacturing industry an opportunity to train for dangerous situations while remaining safe. VR can simulate any potentially hazardous situation to train people for reasonable mitigation efforts.
Most Popular VR Headsets & Brands
VR headsets are used within various industries for fun, education, and exploring people’s creative spirit. But it’s essential to keep in mind that virtual reality headsets are also a tool. And it’s always important to match the right tool to the job.
Every VR headset brings different features and functions to the table. And other brands also tend to specialize in different usage scenarios. There’s a wide variety of VR headsets and brands on the market. But the following options highlight the best of the best within currently available VR headset options.
Oculus Quest 2
The Oculus Quest 2 first showed up on the market in November 2021, currently marketed as the Meta Quest 2, and is one of the first high-quality mainstream VR brands. Today the Oculus Quest 2 provides users with some impressive abilities. The system uses positional tracking and offers six degrees of freedom. This is aided with an array of front-facing mounted cameras rather than through the use of external sensors. These cameras are also used to offer a “passthrough” view so users can look at their physical environment when needed.
The Quest VR headsets provide standalone operation by using an internal Android operating system. But it can also run more computationally demanding software through a USB or wifi link to a PC. This enables full support for PC Oculus-compatible VR software.
Video: Introducing Oculus Quest 2
The Valve Index was initially released in June 2019. It was the first VR device offered by gaming powerhouse Valve. Valve entered the VR industry a little later than most people expected. And the Valve Index is usually classified among the second generation of VR headsets.
Valve decided to put a heavy emphasis on power when they were designing the Index. The device only offers a wired mode of operation. Users will always need to stay connected to a powerful PC when using the Valve Index. And it also uses Base Stations for motion tracking. As such, users need to position tracking stations throughout the room where they’re using the Index.
The Valve Index isn’t as user-friendly as some other virtual reality headsets. But extra complexity in operation translates into one of the most visually powerful VR experiences once it’s been properly installed.
Image attribution: Valve Index
Sony PlayStation VR2
The Sony Playstation VR2 is one of the most powerful ways to experience virtual reality on a gaming console. It offers a compromise between standalone VR headsets and those which tether to a PC. The VR2 does use a wired connection to a PlayStation 5. However, the connection is a simple single-cord system that requires minimal effort to set up for the first time.
The VR2 also benefits from the Playstation 5’s intuitive and responsive Sense controllers. It naturally integrates haptic feedback and adaptive triggers into the VR experience. The motion tracking system is equally easy to set up. The VR2 uses inside-out tracking with embedded cameras on the headset. The result is that the VR2 can keep track of the user’s location without needing Base Stations. The VR2 headset even incorporates a particular motorized system that integrates with games. It can simulate various environmental elements like motion.
Image attribution: Sony PlayStation
HTC Vive Pro 2
The HTC Vive isn’t just the name of one of the top VR headsets. The HTC Vive brand encompasses an entire virtual reality-based ecosystem, including the HTC Vive Pro headset and its accessories, including a wide range of VR software, services, and initiatives.
The Vive Pro was first announced in 2018 to update the standard HTC Vive. It provided several significant upgrades, including some undeniable improvements like a higher resolution. But it also offered some more subtle changes like a more comfortable form factor.
The HTC Vive Pro gives users a stunning 1080×1200 display for each eye. This combines with a 90 Hz refresh rate and 110-degree field of vision to create some impressively immersive environments. The Vive comes with motion controllers that are somewhat reminiscent of a wand. The Vive’s high-tech design makes it a compelling option.
Video: Meet VIVE Pro 2
The HP Reverb G2 is part of Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) line. WMR is a more extensive product collection that fits Microsoft’s long-term holographic computing goals. The HP Reverb G2 has some impressive specs, as expected from a high-tech plan. It has some of the best-looking visuals among the currently available VR headsets. Though it’s essential to keep in mind that it calls for an equally powerful PC to run alongside it. However, the HP Reverb G2 has a half-resolution mode that can decrease the PC system requirements.
In addition to Microsoft, the HP Reverb G2 also incorporates elements from Valve. This includes dual-element Fresnel lenses. This is similar to the lenses in Valve’s own Index. However, the implementation in the Index is a little more complex. But at the same time, the G2 is much lighter than Valve’s Index VR headset.
Image attribution: hp
Pimax Vision 8K X
The Vision 8K X is part of Pimax’s line of VR headsets. It’s also the pinnacle of their work with virtual reality technologies. It has specs that should catch anyone’s eye. The headset combines dual 4k displays with 90 Hz refresh rates. On top of that, it uses SteamVR tracking and impressive head-mounted displays. The Vision 8k X even provides an entire 170-degree FOV. This is further enhanced with IPD adjustments for all pupil distances. This arguably makes it the single most advanced option for people interested in virtual reality headsets.
However, it’s essential to remember that the headset’s amazing graphics require an equally fantastic computer to work alongside it. The setup process is also more complex than competitors. And the impressive specs also translate into it being among the most expensive headsets. But anyone who’s used it can vouch for its excellent performance.
Video: Pimax VR Headsets 2021
Facebook may well be one of the most influential voices in the world of virtual reality. They helped bring about the modern era of VR headsets with Oculus. And they’ve created a wide variety of metaverse-related environments with the Horizon line. Facebook created even more interest in the metaverse when the company rebranded as Meta to promote the subject further. The company is now one of the most active and vocal proponents of the metaverse and virtual reality headsets.
You can discover Facebook’s history with the metaverse in the article “Facebook Metaverse; Explained, Examples, Devices, Vision & Critics”.
VR Headsets and Other Devices To Enter the Metaverse
It’s clear that VR headsets are used for a wide variety of different activities. But the metaverse might well be the most promising use for virtual reality headsets. The metaverse is an exciting frontier tied to many cutting-edge technologies. It provides unique games, virtual reality-based worlds, social and entertainment venues, and more. And a wide variety of virtual reality headsets are perfectly designed for use with the metaverse.
You can discover how VR and AR devices work with the metaverse in the article “Metaverse Devices; The Best Gear To Enter the Metaverse”.
A Brief Overview of Metaverse Companies
You’ve seen how many companies are investing in developing VR headsets. The same is true for the metaverse as a whole. The biggest names in the tech sector are heavily invested in the metaverse. Many companies are also bringing their offline goods into the digital landscape. They are even working on new economic models such as creator economies – in the metaverse, you can find everything from fashion to real estate.
You can find a detailed look into the significant metaverse companies and what they’re building in the article “Metaverse Companies Building The Future; An Overview”.
Donning VR Headsets To Enjoy Metaverse Games
Games are a prevalent use for VR headsets. And the metaverse is also quite popular among people who love VR gear. It’s little wonder that there’s a lot of crossover between these two pastimes. Games are often people’s first foray into the larger metaverse. Metaverse games often offer compelling graphics which take advantage of the fact that users have virtual reality headsets. And the open nature of the metaverse means that people can easily make their own games.
You can discover some of the best metaverse games in the article “Top 10 Popular Metaverse Games To Explore Right Now”.
VR headsets can provide you with a wide variety of different experiences. And pairing them with various accessories can create an even more immersive experience. All it takes to enter this exciting new world is what you’ve learned here.