Facebook just announced a wireless Oculus Rift, but there are other virtual reality companies looking to cut its grass. You can even try them out -- if you live in Singapore that is.
Using VRstudio's new wireless VR headset, a shopping mall called Bugis+ in the island state is letting customers shoot zombies in VR as part of its Halloween event. I got a chance to take part in the action.
While you still have to wear a headset, VRstudio's device lacks the wires that you'll find on mainstream headgear such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. And if you're wondering, no, it's not powered by a mobile phone, and has with the wireless attachment resting at the back of your head when worn.
Besides being fully wireless, the headset sports three tracking sticks attached to the headset, and uses eight infrared cameras mounted above the play area to accurately track your positioning with barely any lag. It also comes with a gun, which you'll use to shoot zombies, that has the same tracking sticks.
Once you put on the gear, you'll be magically transported to the world of Time Zombies, which debuted two years back at the San Diego Comic-Con. It's a simple shooting game that has you in the middle of old London blasting zombies.
Latency is minimal, which is great, as you're able to swivel around and blast zombies quickly, though you'll have to hold the gun out so the cameras can accurately track your movements in 3D space. The game itself is run off a PC, and features slightly less than full-HD 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. It didn't look too shabby when I tried it.
The downside? VRstudio tech is for businesses, not consumers. So it's not a true Oculus competitor. You'll need plenty of space to accommodate the infrared cameras, and costs can go up to high five-figures, said Robin Tiang, CEO of the Arctic Fox, the regional distributors who brought in VRstudio's VRcade setup to Singapore.
But wireless VR is a game-changer, which is why Facebook and HTC are working hard on bringing that experience to consumers. I found that being untethered adds much more freedom, letting me explore the VR world more freely without having to worry about tripping over wires I couldn't see. I also felt more free to bust out cool manoeuvres, some of which may or may not involved jumping around.
If anything, 2018 and the forthcoming wireless headsets for consumers can't come fast enough and that's probably when VR will really start making more sense for the average consumer.
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