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The age of virtual reality has finally arrived, part I

OWDT has been among the very first website design companies in the country to use 360-degree videos.

What took so long?

The earliest attempts to create VR were in the first half of the nineteenth century with panoramic, 360-degree mural paintings and stereoscopic viewers, introduced in 1838.

Following a series of progressive experimental advancements throughout the twentieth century, the term ‘virtual reality’ was introduced in the late 1980s. By the 1990s, many believed that VR was soon going to be available for everyone. That hope inspired at least a dozen science fiction movies before the turn of the century. –Remember “The Matrix” and “The Lawnmower Man?” At the time, many envisioned a near-future technology in which special headsets would transmit computer-generated images directly into our eyes, eliminating the need for screens, while at the same time tracking our movements.

But the technology then was much too primitive for that to materialize. The most serious limitations were slow processing speed between head movements and computer images plus low- resolution computer graphics that made the experience disorienting and unconvincing. Twenty years later, there have been major advances in overcoming those and other limitations, paving the way for the first generation of immersive sight and sound VR products.

The first generation of commercially viable VR products

Oculus Rift and HTC Vive went on the market this spring–the former getting the most publicity, in part because it offers more games. A third gaming option, PlayStation VR, will be launched in October. Price will inevitably decline when the novelty wears off. Another reason to delay purchase is the expected rapid pace of future tech improvements for these products.

Reviews indicate that while both offer convincing total immersion experiences, HTC Vive is the better of the two in that regard. On the other hand, the HTC Vive headset is bulkier and less comfortable to wear. Another advantage for Rift–it already gives users 360- degree movies through Facebook, Vimeo, and Twitch. Of course, you’ll need a powerful, expensive PC to make either of them work.

Potential users should be aware that the total immersion experience these products provide is disorienting enough to make some people feel sick. Users need to slowly build tolerance to be able to use these devices for more than a few minutes.

Wireless VR for portable devices

Receiving less attention is a much cheaper category of VR products designed for portable wireless devices. Two primary examples are Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, both of which plug into your phone to provide convenient, wireless, but markedly lower quality VR. In fact, the bulk of VR product purchases this year are in this less glamorous category.

YouTube introduced 360-degree videos in 2015, now available on YouTube and Facebook, that integrate with this wireless VR. OWDT has been among the very first website design companies in the country and the only one in Texas to use 360-degree videos. We have also managed to utilize 360 videos in connection with the gyroscope of mobile devices free of exclusive aps. A function that giant tech companies like Youtube and Facebook are yet to develop. Click here to experience one of our examples.


In my next installments, in this series, I’ll explore the possibilities of multi-sensory VR, applications in business, education, healthcare delivery, and, of course, entertainment.

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