Honestly, it's like being part of the future, today. Now that I’ve shown family members, colleagues and friends around the software and experience, and seen universally positive reactions, I’m quite certain that VR is going to become a much bigger part of everyone’s lives in future. To say that I’m happy with it would be an understatement!
Having owned this incredible piece of technology for over a month now, it's still a remarkable feeling to use it and to interact with it.
The Vive Is Quashing Concerns
Firstly, I’ve been following the developments of the burgeoning VR scene for some time, so I’ve been more than aware of the various concerns surrounding fully-immersive experiences. As an example, motion sickness – even to the point of intense nausea – has been reported and fretted about, more times than I care to remember. However, I’ve now hosted two sessions with very diverse groups of people; some of whom are steadfast gamers, some of whom don’t play games, but work in tech, and some of whom don’t use computers very frequently at all.
Of these, I can conclusively state that none of these people fell ill at any time. Moreover, having guided all of these people through their first VR experience, I’m quite sure that everyone in my circle who has tried it really has thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve honestly seen more awestruck smiles over the past few weeks than at any other time in my life.
And on that note, I’m a firm believer that ‘no news is good news’. By this moment in time, the Vive has been shipped to thousands upon thousands of users. At the same time, the fact that there hasn’t been an overwhelming pandemic of motion sickness hitting swathes of the community, speaks for itself. In 2016, given the influence of reddit and online community forums, we certainly would have heard about any serious gripes a large number of people have with a product like this by now. And when this lack of negative feedback comes to VR, this is an incredible achievement in and of itself.
The Little Things Count
For the person experiencing VR, it’s amazing enough to receive the two Vive controllers from those around you; you can see the peripherals floating towards you through space, even though you know it is in fact another person nearby handing the controllers to you. And for this reason, as the person outside of the experience, it’s equally amazing to hand the controllers over! Since the user sees the controllers in their VR space, they know exactly when and where to hold out their hands, and when to grasp the controllers, and receive them from the other person, even though the two aren’t sharing the same virtual space. This idea – of perfectly grabbing something that you can’t physically see? That, dear readers, is VR done perfectly.
The Sheer Value For Money
Another point is that of the cost involved. Now, I fully appreciate that not everyone can partake in VR as they would like. Take a £700+ headset, like the Vive, alongside the very capable £1,000+ PC required to run it, and the barrier to entry is understandably high. But, as I see it, today you could also spend £700+ on an iPhone. Now, that iPhone will of course be both beautiful and functional – as we’d expect – but relatively speaking, it doesn’t come anywhere near the Vive in terms of present day innovation.
The VR market is nascent, as compared to more established, mainstream markets for other tech products Therefore, the innovators and developers behind this kind of product enjoy far less revenue and so have no choice but to charge higher prices to keep their business model sustainable. At the moment, VR developers are pioneering an entirely new vertical – the likes of which we haven’t seen before. So we can’t blame them for needing a means to finance this innovation, where previously there was barely any.
Hopefully, by illustrating the comparative lack of innovation in the smartphone space today, we can all appreciate that the price of the Vive – even at these very early stages – can be justified, relatively speaking.
To sum up my first impressions, the Vive has gone far beyond my initial expectations.
In terms of tracking and low latency, there is simply no lag. Again in this case, here no news absolutely is good news: if the tracking wasn’t perfect, people would complain, and the experience would be ruined entirely.
On top of that, together HTC and Valve have executed this premier VR experience extremely well. When I think of the sheer amount of effort, brilliance and ingenuity that has gone into this delivery, I’m consistently amazed. The level quality and attention to detail protects the end-user from going through an unpleasant, nausea-inducing experience, and instead, people invariably seem to enjoy their time under the influence of this headset. Hopefully we’ll be able to hold another Dauntless VR day soon, so expect some more impressions to come...