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Science and Tech

Virtual reality headsets in your living room

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By EMN Updated: May 09, 2016 11:42 pm
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By Liyo Kikon

Did you know that you can get virtual reality headsets today and immerse yourself into another world right in your living room? Well, all you need is google cardboard and an android device.
Okay, lets get one thing out of the way… Google cardboard has been around for almost 2 years now and I’ve owned one for more than a year. Plus, I’m sure that there are some of you out there who own it too. But even today, majority of people in Nagaland have never heard of it or experienced it. So its safe to say that is the “latest” mind blowing experience.
Now, why do I say its ‘mind blowing’? because until you wear one of these really inexpensive headsets and enter the world of virtual reality, you truly have not experienced the next phase in technology. As of today, it is just scratching the surface of what is actually possible with virtual reality and in just a couple of years, we will soon see an explosion of head mounted display technology.

So, what is google cardboard?
Yes, it is a piece of folded cardboard, literally! but it has a pair of lenses and a magnetic button system on the side. Once you fold it up, there is a Velcro strap on top to hold down the final fold which can be lifted open and this is where you place your android phone. Sadly, it doesn’t work well with other phones because most of the awesome apps are available only on android so I wouldn’t recommend an iPhone or windows phone. But if you have a mid range to high end android phone with gyroscope (read the specification on your phone to see if it has gyroscope), just download some cardboard apps, place your phone in the headset, put it on, and watch 360 videos or play games in a virtual reality world.

What is it really like?
If you are watching a 360 degree video on one of these headsets, you can move your head around i.e. look up, down, turn around and you will feel like you’re actually there in that time and place. Pair it up with a set of high quality headphones and the person wearing it will lose sense of the real world and enter the virtual one. You can obviously watch regular movies as well, just by installing an app and have the experience of a large theater screen all for yourself using just your cell phone’s screen! and did I mention 3d movies?
It sounds too good I know, but it must be expensive right? well, you’re wrong. You can buy one online for as little as Rs.500/- or less on eBay. There are higher quality variations available as well by third party companies and others which can cost anything from Rs. 1,000 to 5,000/- depending on the seller and the product. I would generally recommend the ones which cost more than 1 gran and made of plastic. Do check to make sure that they have good straps for a comfortable fit. There are lots of other specifications to consider as well, such as field of view, focus functions and more. But for a start, you don’t need to worry too much about those details.
I know what you’re thinking – Awesome product, great technology and seriously cheap! So, what’s the catch? Well, after wearing the headset for a long duration, you will probably get motion sickness and feel dizzy since its just meant for light usage. There are high end products from Samsung, HTC, Oculus and other companies which take care of this issue but they can drill a hole in your pocket and most of them are not easily available either.
I’m sure that once the technology settles down, the cost for high end virtual reality will come down and better products will come up. But for now, I have to say that everyone has got to try out virtual reality at least once to see just how it feels with one of these google cardboard.
With the implementation of 360 videos on YouTube and the popularity of it, you can get tons of videos and games for free so you will never run out of content. And with the introduction of new head mounted display such as Microsoft hololens, the oculus rift and other such tech, we can easily tell that this is going to be the future and cellphones will soon be a thing of the past. Imagine walking around with a pair of everyday glasses with an inbuilt processing unit and display system to check your messages, make calls and do almost everything, including replacing our actual living space with a virtual one… I can only dream of such a future, but the fun part is that we are actually seeing it happen!

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By EMN Updated: May 09, 2016 11:42:33 pm